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Tag: feminism

Cllr. Chris Hossack and cheap taxi fares for scantily clad women…

It has been a while. My rage-o-metre has been pretty low in recent days and weeks. I have been serene. Cruising along the path of life not worrying about things – certainly with regards to politics. However I saw Brentwood Lib Dems tweeting ferociously this morning about disassociating themselves with the comments of a fellow councillor so I did some investigating. When I say did some investigating I meant clicked on the link where a Brentwood councillor had made some shall we say ‘interesting’ comments.

Cllr Chris Hossack, who is a Conservative councillor on Brentwood Borough Council has had an idea that would help keep young women out of danger on nights out, which I think we’ll all agree is something that sounds great. However looking at his actual idea and I think it is fair to say I’m rather skeptical and in all honesty it might actually instead of resolving the issue would escalate the danger young women have.

His idea is for local taxi firms to give cheap fares home to scantily clad women. Yes you heard that right. If you are looking extremely sexy then taxi drivers should give you cheaper fares home in an effort to stop young women (and I suppose older women) from deciding the taxi isn’t good value for money and walking home instead. Now in a way its an idea that has some merit but the moment you scratch beyond the surface it is a horrendous idea.

He blames it in part on TOWIE and that culture but women have a right to wear whatever they like on a night out. He blames Amy Childs for basically making her living off of her looks. I mean is he for real? If I was an attractive young man who abs and a body and face to die for do you think I’d have a job sitting at a PC all day? I doubt it somewhat. People are free to live their lives lives however they see fit and if she has decided to use her looks to help build u a brand and a career then good for her.

Going back to the councillor and who decides what should be deemed as being ‘provocatively dressed’ as he puts it. Do taxi drivers come out and measure the length of skirts above the knee to decide what kind of discount these women should get? That is just lunacy and also would taxi drivers choose not to pick up young women because they know they wouldn’t get as much money for their time?

The other part of this that really troubles me if this doesn’t actually get to the heart of the problem. If women knew they would get cheaper lifts home then would they dress even more ‘proactively’ as he put it? The issue is women (and men) should be able to dress however they like. Just because a woman has a short skirt and low cut top doesn’t mean they are more open to advances and the like. The issue at hand is about ensuring that people have a safe night out and are able to travel home safely no matter how they are dressed. I’m fairly sure that sexual predators don’t just look at clothes in deciding who they are going to attack, they look at opportunity.

Cllr. Chris Hossack is looking at a real issue but his idea just doesn’t tackle the issue in any sort of way that would solve the problem. Instead it would create more problems and would in fact be making a definition that there is a difference between women who wear short skirts and/or low-cut tops compared to those who don’t and personally speaking I think that is an extremely dangerous road to go down…

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The problem(s) facing the feminist movement.

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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The ‘casual sexism’ of Andy Murray’s win stopping 77 years of hurt.

My blood people. My blood. You have endangered that blood by trying to make it boil. All afternoon and evening last night and now this morning. I need a hot tub to relax in (well ok I just want a hot tub and think that this would be the perfect excuse) but what has got my blood boiling you ask? The faux sexism regarding Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon yesterday.

You see it has been 77 years since a British man has held aloft the Wimbledon Men’s Singles trophy. The thing is though instead of enjoying that triumph people are looking for every way to attack and use this victory to make their point. Twitter was full of ‘Don’t you remember Virginia Wade’ such quotes yesterday as she was the last woman to hold aloft the Wimbledon Women’s Singles trophy to have hailed from the British Isles and she did so in 1977, which as basic mathematicians will tell you is more recent than 1936.

Now that is a fine point but if we are looking at all British victories at Wimbledon in the main events (singles and doubles for both men and women as well as mixed) then of course it was only last year when Jonathan Marray held aloft a Wimbledon trophy having won the Men’s Doubles. In 2007 Andy’s own brother lifted the Mixed Doubles trophy and if you really want to be pedantic and say that they had help from non-British partners then go back to 1987 when Jo Durie and Jeremy Bates were British winners of the Mixed Doubles at SW19.

Stephen Tall today blogged about the headline in The Times today which was ‘Murray ends 77-year wait for British win’ and exclaims As if it would have killed the headline writer to say 36 years (accurate) instead of 77 (inaccurate). Well Stephen as you well know 36 is not accurate. It cannot be accurate. The only accurate responses are either one year or 77. At no point does the headline writer refer to singles play so it either has to be one (the last British winner of any sort) or 77 (the last Men’s winner) you can’t just decide that singles play was intimated because it fits your point.

See this is the type of thing I have seen for the majority of the past 24 hours. People manipulate things to fit their own agenda or point. Facts get thrown out of the window and accuracy that people are pleading for is something they have missed entirely. Now if anyone – whether face to face or in the media – says that Andy Murray’s win ended 77 of singles hurt at Wimbledon for British players then that would be inaccurate and sexist. If they say that Andy Murray’s win ended British hurt at Wimbledon then either they mean the Men’s singles or instead of being sexist they just don’t know about Jonathan Marray, Jamie Murray, Jo Durie, Jeremy Bates, Virginia Wade etc.

The thing is folks I have yet to see any commentator, yet to see any media outlet, yet to speak to anyone – let me repeat that – anyone – who has said that Andy Murray’s win ended 77 of singles hurt at Wimbledon for British players. Not one. They have either just said hurt at Wimbledon or hurt in the Men’s singles at Wimbledon. So either they are correct or they don’t care about all other events about from the Men’s singles including Men’s doubles and male participants in the Mixed doubles.

However why let facts get in the way of faux outrage. This is why sexism kills me. People will see sexism in everything. I know people who think holding a door open for a woman is sexist. I know of people who don’t. I know of people who thought it was sexist that the Men’s marathon awards ceremony at the Olympics was during the Closing Ceremony. They thought women should have just as much right to the final awards ceremony as men. So do these people think that the Women’s Wimbledon Final should be played on the same day as the Men? Should they be played at the same time and given equal billing? If they are played on the same day and the Women’s final is first then is it sexist and demeaning and making the Men out to be more important? At Wimbledon women are asked to play back-to-back days (Monday/Tuesday of the second week) whereas men aren’t. Some say that is sexist.

I could go on and on but if you are to plead sexism – and we all depressingly know that there is more than enough sexism to go around – but if you are to see sexism then actually find something sexist to be mad at. Don’t manipulate a story to fit your agenda. As for Stephen’s take on would it kill the headline writer to say 36 years which would’ve been accurate. If Stephen can point out in the headline where it says ‘singles’ then I’ll grant him that it is casual sexism. However he won’t be able to so it cannot be sexist. Either it is ignoring all men and women who have won Wimbledon trophies since 1936 or it is talking about the Men’s Singles. It cannot be anything else.

Who cares about facts anyway. Outrage people. Outrage!

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The latest on the No More Page 3 campaign…

What’s that Neil? You as a liberal are going to update us on this move by the No More Page 3 campaign to get the House of Commons involved and an Early Day Motion about stopping this publication being stocked at any of the parliamentary estate locations? No doubt you’ll be as sympathetic as ever to this campaign and not just chortle to yourself…

Oh brain. You slay me.

Anyway here we are. Boobs are still on Page 3 and The Sun don’t seem to be changing their attitude anytime soon. However they have changed their editor so maybe that will give the campaign more impoteus? We shall see as they say. I have actually spent the last half an hour or so surfing the No More Page 3 website (after it took several stabs to load – possibly get a better server?) and despite the obvious pixelation in the banner being my first concern (yes I’m a geek) there are some interesting pieces there but also what I didn’t know is that the campaign has decided to diversify. It now isn’t just about getting Page 3 removed (which so far it has failed spectacularly in) but how also wants a certain type of relationship education and doesn’t like Lego being advertised with soft porn. Sadly the photo they have included on the latter piece is so small no-one who hasn’t seen an original can tell how bad the content is. Anyway…

So the No More Page 3 campaign isn’t against women baring their chests in men’s magazines just the news but just a few weeks ago we saw another campaign against women baring their breasts in these magazines in case people who didn’t like handling said magazines had to handle them if they were employed in shops that sold them. The masses are uprising another boobs being available anywhere.

That isn’t really the story though. The story is obviously how are they doing with this? Well Caroline Lucas’ Early Day Motion has 13 MPs backing it calling for The Sun not to be available around parliament. I can’t get my head around this EDM as if an MP or worker wanted to get a copy then they could still just go and buy one and I’m pretty sure The Sun aren’t going to be crippled by not being available within the parliamentary estate but oh well. Also I don’t get why Miss Lucas and others do not want the Daily Star to be available. Last I saw the Daily Star also had boob (every single time I type boob I say it in my head in the voice of Steve from American Dad!).

This has been a part of my argument for a long time. They want to stop boob in The Sun because it is an ‘institution’ but in the Daily Star it is fine. Yeah that makes sense. Honest.

However this has (and still is) my biggest issue with the whole campaign. They don’t want government intervention (well they didn’t until recently) and this was all about asking The Sun to change for moral purposes. A big corporation changing on moral purposes even though it would probably cost them millions of pounds in lost sales? Yeah that sounds likely.

Here we go. I’m guessing most people who back the No More Page 3 campaign don’t buy the newspaper. Will they buy it once boob isn’t on Page 3? I am doubtful. Even if some do then will enough people start buying it who did’t before to make up for the loss in sales due to boob disappearing from Page 3? No. No they wouldn’t because if they did then The Sun would have already done it. They don’t put topless women in the newspaper on a jolly. It is because their market research leads them to believe that by doing so they sell more newspapers.

So it boils down to this. Will The Sun sacrifice money for morals?

I have my opinions and I think you all have exactly the same.

So the No More Page 3 campaign continues to roll. As for my opinion on the whole thing. Well personally I don’t like seeing boob in a newspaper. Hence why I don’t buy it (also the whole Hillsborough thing still wrangles) but unless it is against the law they have every right to do what they like. Until they think they’ll make more money from no boob they’ll continue to show boob. That is the way it is. I think that is relatively obvious to anyone but seemingly it is not.

So the No More Page 3 campaign needs to go down the legislation route or they are doomed to fail. Also take on the Daily Star as well. Going after one publication and not the other makes no sense. It never did and it never will.

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Disney has sexed up Brave star Merida but at what cost to young minds?

‘Individuality in people is what makes them beautiful’

Words of a very special young man, oh wait, no, scratch that, I said those words this morning. You see I was speaking (well typing) in response to the petition surrounding the ‘glammed up’ version of Merida by Disney as they have made her look more ‘beautiful’ as they prepare her for the US market. They clearly think that by making her look more sexual then they’ll sell more products but isn’t this yet again an attempt by a big money corporation to follow the dollar instead of standing up for what is right?

The creator of Merida – the star of the film Brave – is unhappy with the new version of her character. Speaking in The Guardian she said the following:

The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls’ capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired. Moreover, by making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior; that for girls and women to have value – to be recognised as true princesses – they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.

By jove she has a point. Now I’m a man so did not face half the issues that women – and in particular young women face as they grow up. Still I see all the magazines and read all the stories (ok that is a lie, I don’t but I know they exist). I know that we are spoon fed by the media what to look for in role models and alas looks is right up there. I was standing in the shower earlier working through this blog post in my head (yes this is the type of thing that I do) and I wondered to myself if we asked 1,000 teenage girls and 1,000 teenage men who they would aspire to be like (and for the men would like to share dinner with) – either Dame Helen Mirren or Kelly Brook who would get the most votes amongst both genders?

I think it is safe to say the vast majority of teenage men would be hot blooded and say Kelly Brook but I also fear that an albeit smaller majority of women would prefer to be like Kelly Brook than Dame Helen Mirren. This depresses me. The tabloid media will follow Kelly Brook’s (or anyone else of that ilk) every move so they can show a photo of her in an attempt to boost sales. Good looking women sell copies but photos of a respected, Oscar winning actress would not.

Michelle Obama is the most known First Lady of all time I suspect and is it a coincidence that she is the most glam? I had Carla Bruni shoved down my throat in both the written and broadcast media when she was the wife of the French President but I had to go and search for the name of her successor in that position. Valérie Trierweiler is her name for the record. Whilst I don’t begrudge the media presence of Michelle Obama as she clearly uses her position to further many great causes – it says a lot that other First Lady’s have done just as much good which were not as widely recognised due to being less in the media spotlight.

The media and society have a view on what is beautiful and they try to promote people who fall into that venn diagram of who they believe is beautiful. The media do this to make money (similar to what Disney have done with Merida) and society gets dragged along with it. You ask anyone who they think is the most beautiful person and they’ll say their partner if they have one and then if you say ignore their partner they’ll pick out someone famous. However they won’t all name the same person, in fact quite the opposite, if you asked 1,000 men and 1,000 women who they thought the most beautiful famous person was and I’m willing to bet we’ll get at least 100 names for both men and women.

You see the thing is we all look for something different and see beauty in an unending number of ways. If someone asked me what I thought makes someone beautiful then I would struggle to answer. This is just this je ne sais quoi that some people have and some people don’t in my eyes. There is no one thing that I could hang my hat on and say ‘that is something all beautiful people have’ because I just don’t think there is that one thing.

I would love to live in a world where beauty isn’t dictated by society or the media. I know as we all get older we start to see this for ourselves but when you are young and impressionable you don’t see this. When I was a teenager I saw what the media dictated as the most eligible bachelors – David Beckham and Jamie Redknapp – marry two pop stars. Every young women (ok not every young woman, that is a lie) but the amount of young women who wanted to be pop stars increased with this because they thought that is what eligible bachelors go for. A lot (although not as many as some in society would claim) of young women would like to be a footballers wife. Is this really an aspiration we want to pass on?

The best way to tackle this is to promote individuality as beauty. If young people can see that beauty is not just want society tells us it is then they would start to feel less pressure to conform to what society wants them to be. We are all different. This is what makes us a wondrous race. I’m lucky that I have reached a stage where I am comfortable in my own skin but heck in my teens and early 20s I had so much disdain for how my looked it was insane looking back.

If I had my way then schools would promote individuality far more than they do. In our education system you aren’t prepared for the real world. Instead you are forced into a mould to achieve the best possible exam results for both yourself and in turn your school. However whilst being academically successful is important, so is the process of discovering who we are and how we can be the best person we can be. I think our education system fails on this and is one thing I’d love to change. The more young people are allowed to explore themselves the more tolerant we would be and the more comfortable we would be with ourselves and others – no matter how different we were.

Back to the original point the petition is here and if you believe that young women need a vaster array of role models then I would implore you to sign. I don’t blame Disney for what they did because they are just trying to maximise their revenues but I am disappointed by it. They don’t have an obligation to any section of society but it would be nice to see them promote a larger selection of role models and not just do what they think is best for them in the short term profits wise.

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Why women can’t win even when wronged after being called a ‘Bitch’ or other derogatory terms

As regular readers of this blog will know there are only a few blogs that I actually have on my feed that I read pretty much every single thing that gets uploaded on to it. One of those is the Confederacy Of Spinsters website. It is blogging of the highest calibre and today it was Mae who blogged something that caught my eye and made me think. Blogging that makes me think is the type of blogging that I like.

Mae wrote A Letter To The Client Who Called Me A “Bitch” and made some rather pertinent points. The short story is she was called a bitch by a client and then informed her bosses of it. She was the one wronged but things didn’t exactly play out like that. In our world the term ‘banter’ seems to be far more prevalent than it should be. Whether it be in the office or in dating. People ‘love a bit of banter’ and if people are too ‘square’ to accept such banter then a large percentage of society look down upon them.

The thing is ‘banter’ is often just personal abuse disguised as banter. Calling someone a bitch is just being abusive. Now we can debate whether it is sexist abuse or not – but one thing is for sure – it is abuse and is certainly not appropriate in a work environment. Now in this instance Mae went to her boss and reported the incident but instead of her boss being understanding first of all he wondered if she had mis-heard and when the person in question admitted it then they felt the need to rush to her defence. Now I can’t get inside Mae’s mind but I’m assuming she didn’t need ‘saving’ and just wanted the incident reported – which was the right thing to do – and for the person who called her an abusive term to understand why it isn’t on.

However the sentence that hit the old nail on the head was thus:

By calling me a “bitch” you put me in a losing position. No matter what I did, I was the victim.

Bingo. If she had ignored it then she would’ve been allowing someone to be abusive in the workplace which is not on. By reporting it the perception was sown that she was a weak female that needed saving. She couldn’t win either way despite acting in the appropriate way. These are the types of situations where I think we as a society still have a bit of work to do – to say the least. The first instinct of her boss wasn’t to say ‘he what?’ and then proceed to apologise on behalf of the company and then speak to the offender. His first instinct was to try and defuse the situation by making the person wronged think whether she may have been incorrect in her recollection.

One of the comments though summed things up perfectly from a British PoV:

As a Brit, I’d probably just do nothing. Possibly have some passive aggressive thoughts in my head. But that’s as far I’d go, I think! Such a lamer.

That is the way we roll. The old stiff upper-lip and all that. People need to understand that calling someone else an abusive term isn’t on – whether it is a man or a woman. The difference between the two is how management reacts if it was referred up. If a man was wronged then they would be told to grow a pair and for a woman they are questioned about it and then if proved wronged would be made to feel like they needed saving.

I think basically we need to learn that abuse is not on in the workplace full stop and if it happens then treat those who are wronged the same way. Don’t make a woman out to feel like a damsel in distress and don’t make a guy who complained about abuse out to be a loser who can’t take a bit of banter. Abuse is abuse people and the best way to stop it is by management understanding that a work environment is never a place for abuse and if it is reported to them then they should just deal with it and educate the abuser into why it is not on and move on. Seems simple no?

Mae couldn’t win and was made to feel like a weak female for reporting inappropriate behaviour. This use her own terminology that is some serious bullshit folks. Serious bullshit…

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This ‘No More Page 3’ petition is highly unlikely to do anything but the sentiment is fab

In the past few days some momentum (well I say some momentum – a few people have blogged on it but actually at the point of writing only 8,772 have signed the petition despite featuring in national newspapers) but lets ignore that and pretend the momentum is gathering.

I have strong feelings on Page 3. I don’t like it but I don’t feel that it should be banned. This petition though isn’t about banning it. It is about getting the editor of The Sun to decide that it is time to move on and ditch this aspect of his newspaper. Sounds good in practice but one of the posts talking about it entitled ‘For what it’s worth‘ sums up exactly why the petition has very little chance of succeeding:

The campaign isn’t trying to censor The Sun, either; no one is seeking to “ban” Page 3, but merely wishes to implore Dominic Mohan, the editor of the paper, to do away with it. It is not good enough to merely cease to buy the paper, or skip the page; firstly, because many of the supporters of the campaign probably do not read the paper in the first place, but also because ignoring a problem does not fix it.

So as the author says herself the petition isn’t exactly aimed at the people who buy the newspaper so why would the editor of a national newspaper give a damn what people who don’t buy his newspaper think? I mean seriously? If I was the editor of a newspaper and was told that a lot of people who didn’t buy the newspaper anyway were pissed off with a part of my publication then would I give a damn? Of course I wouldn’t and more importantly nor would anyone else.

The problem with this petition (and all of the Page debates) is that The Sun will not stop until they are either banned from doing it or it is not worth it financially. That is it. That is the list. Now I have no doubt that News International do extensive research on this issue and I fully expect they know that if they ditched it but it wasn’t banned then one of their tabloid rivals would straight away go with it and pick-up a significant percentage of their circulation.

If they knew (or believed) that by ditching the Page 3 girl they would increase their circulation as all the people who don’t buy The Sun would suddenly buy it then they would. However they know that the people who don’t buy the newspaper don’t do so primarily because of the tits on show. They lost half a million off their circulation in the past year but that wasn’t because of tits it was because of phone hacking. They’ll also very closely monitor the circulation figures after the Hillsborough report finding what it did. So the newspaper may well see a drop in sales again over the next few months.

Page 3 to The Sun is nothing to do with their thoughts of sexual objectification. It is all about money (like most businesses) and financially it obviously is worth it to them otherwise they wouldn’t do it. The people who don’t like it don’t buy it anyway so why would they care what these people think? Isn’t that a very bizarre way to run a business? Would you run a business where the people who make you money like what you do but those who don’t make you money are complaining and you listen to the latter and not the former?

Look if you want to sign the petition then go for it and good luck to you. I would like to see it succeed as I don’t like Page 3. The link is here but in the real world the likelihood of this petition making waves in the boardroom of News International or even at the editorial level at The Sun is extremely extremely low. You can debate whether that is right or wrong until your heart is content but that is a fact.

The Sun is not going to change its philosophy on Page 3 out of the goodness of their heart. They just won’t. Even if they hit the million signatures that they are aiming for, if they see no drop in their circulation figures then they won’t do anything.

Sometimes we see the world from our own point of view and not from the point of view of others. Page 3 sells newspapers. I don’t like it. You probably don’t like it but it is a fact and until it doesn’t then why would they stop? The Sun as we all know isn’t the bastion of moral fortitude and it doesn’t pretend to be. It is a newspaper that serves as the news of the lowest common denominator. I don’t think that is an unfair statement and the people that buy it are not those who care about tits on Page 3.

If we want to change the perceptions of women and get Page 3 consigned to the history books then this isn’t the way forward. Attitudes need to change within the people that buy the newspaper and not the other way around. A newspaper is not going to take the lead when money is at stake. So it needs other avenues to succeed. What they are I don’t know but I sure as hell know that this won’t change a thing.

Sexism is still prevalent in our society and whilst it is slowly changing (it is slowly changing) there are still many problems. Would killing Page 3 make any difference? Maybe but killing Page 3 is unlikely when there is a willing audience both to buy it and star in it. Change has to happen from the bottom up and a media outlet with shareholders to answer to will not lead the way unless they believe it is financially worthwhile. Like it or not that is the bottom line and that is where the buck will stop.

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Why I am a feminist and support feminism – but struggle with radical feminism

Feminism is described on as thus, ‘the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.’ On the bastion that is modern day sourcing it is described as, ‘Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.”‘

So I think it is fair to say that feminism is mainly about equality and getting on an equal footing with men in social, economic and political way. Have I got that right?

Well I know I have but a lot of people think I don’t understand feminism so I thought I’d ask the question.

So in essence if you believe in equality then you are a feminist. Now I don’t think I’m stretching the envelope too much here to say that the vast majority of people actually believe in equality. Of course there are many who do not but if you asked 100 men whether they thought men and women should be treated differently around their friends then many would say that they should. If you asked 100 men that on twitter then some no doubt would say that they should. However if you asked 100 men that same question in front of their mothers then that number would significantly drop. Sadly playing up when no-one is around to call you on it is an issue some men have.

The difference in answering and acting does often depend who you are around. Your actual beliefs won’t change but what you say might. We all know men and women who act differently around their parents than they do around their friends. That is I think fair to say only natural. However acting different and being a different person with different core beliefs and values are two very different things. Personally I strongly believe that people don’t change – they just change the way they act to fit in with who they are around.

Hopefully I have now established my personal point of view that people are who they are but often they don’t give a true representation of themselves. This is of course a personal belief and not one that everyone may agree with but I certainly think it is a valid viewpoint and not one borne out from my naive male ideas.

So now we get back to the title of the blog. If feminism is solely about generating equality in all those circles then of course I am a feminist but of course it isn’t just that. Is feminism about equality or is it about generating equal opportunities? That is the big one for me. That is the sticking point and that is the place where I fall down.

As a firm believing that I couldn’t care less who my doctor was whether it was a he or a she or something in between. Whether they were white or black or Asian or African. I don’t care. If I get hit by a car I want the most qualified person to be operating on me on the operating table. The same goes for my stockbroker (if I had one) or my councillor or my MP or the PM I don’t care about their backgrounds I just want the best person for the job. This would also be true if my girlfriend/wife (should they ever exist) and if they got pregnant (that would I’m told involve ‘the sex’) and went into labour then I wouldn’t care if a man or a woman was the midwife. I wouldn’t care. Best person for the job. Same with female football referees. If they are good enough then I don’t care. Male refs make a tonne of mistakes as no doubt would female ones. As long as they got the majority right then I wouldn’t care.

At this point I’d like to link to a piece by Louise Shaw. Seemingly and crudely dolloped in the middle of a sentence here in the link.

Here is the opening paragraph:

Last Friday I wrote a post about how I thought feminism was becoming mainstream. Julian Assange, George Galloway, Todd Akin and others all combined to convince me it really wasn’t, or else it’s job was far from over.

Now I’ll respond to that. You have a guy that is deluded and living in his own wikileaks bubble and can’t see the wood for the trees. You have a person who actually won a landslide election victory despite being an idiot and a moron all making stupid comments. Do they alone speak for the mainstream? Those three people could all not like doughnuts or football but would that alone mean that doughnuts and football were not mainstream? To be fair to Louise she also says others but you will never find 100% uniformity behind anything. Heck there are millions of people around the world who still believe an omnipotent being created the universe. Millions also believe the moon landings were faked. You even have thousands who believe that the souls of billions of aliens live inside of all of us. You’ll even find some who think that George Osbourne is a competent Chancellor of the Exchequer. Not everyone will agree on everything and because three ‘high profile’ people are various reasons said/believe stupid things does that really change anything?

Speaking of changing anything I just want to briefly reference the #menagainstrape hashtag again on twitter. Just want to put the question of there of what did it actually do? I know I have blogged about it earlier in the week but really what did it do? With every man who tweeted that they were against rape did that mean that there is one fewer rapist out there? If someone has tweeted that they are against rape does this preclude them from ever being a rapist? It is a platinum plated take it to the bank guarantee? With every person that came out and on twitter proclaimed that they were against rape did it warm the cockles of women’s heart and make them have more faith in men one person at a time? If so that means that these people have the default belief that men are not against rape. I struggle to believe that anyone deep down actually thinks this. Anyone. So again what exactly did this hashtag do again?

It is time to step on to extremely dodgy ground. I recall one Lib Dem PPC telling me that if I ever wanted to get into politics to never talk about rape. Rape is not a subject where any debate is allowed. However I’m an eejit so I’m opening up that can of worms. A lot – and when I say a lot I really mean everyone pretty much – agrees that rape is rape. I do not. Let me explain.

All rape – whether it be in a marriage or whilst someone is asleep is despicable and disgusting. All rape pretty much will leave exactly the same physical scaring but not all rape with leave the same mental scaring. If a rapist breaks into your house and rapes you then it is an awful act and one that you will struggle to get over. If a rapist breaks into your house and rapes you whilst holding a knife to your throat telling you that he is going to kill you if you don’t do everything that they say then the mental scaring will not be the same. If someone breaks into your home, rounds up your children and ties them up in the basement and pours petrol over them and drags you down to the basement and keeps flicking their lighter telling you that they’ll burn them alive if you don’t let him do as they say then again surely that is going to produce a different set of mental scaring?

The physical act may be the same but rape is not just about the physical act – it is about everything else. I am not going to argue that one is less evil than the other (although I think that argument could be made) what I am saying is different rapes result in different mental scaring for the victims. Again I reiterate my point that all rape is despicable and disgusting but not all attacks are equal.

Ok that might be the most dodgy ground I walk over in this blog post. I’m glad it is out of the way. Next up one of my biggest issues with sexism/feminism is that many things that are not sexist are loudly declared as such by people always looking to find something to moan about. Take the Olympics closing ceremony. Twitter exploded when the Men’s Marathon Medal Ceremony was during the closing ceremony. It was ‘blatantly sexist’ because it happened. This wasn’t just one or two people saying this. This was a distinct calling of many people that I follow. I said I despaired that people thought it was sexist and got a lot of pretty vicious comments back saying I knew nothing.

Now my knowledge of sexism is that it is prejudicial or discrimination based on a person’s gender. So was having a medal ceremony in the closing ceremony prejudiced against women or does it discriminate against them? I just don’t see how it does. The Men’s Marathon was on the final day of the Games – as it traditionally has always been and that is why it is the one event that has its medal ceremony during the closing ceremony. In the winter games traditionally it is the Men’s 50KM cross-country ski that has its medal ceremony in the closing ceremony. Yet again a male event. Is it sexist or is it because it is the longest event in the games?

So what would make it better? Having two medal ceremonies – one for men and one for women in the closing ceremony? That would be equal but also would they want to hold the women’s marathon at the same time as the men’s instead of on another day? Maybe the discrimination is that women are not allowed to race in the men’s race and therefore are not given the opportunity to be on the medal podium at the closing ceremony. If that is the case then obviously the only way forward is to scrap the women’s marathon as well as the men’s and have just one marathon. The problem with that obvious is…

No woman would ever get near the medal podium. Never. End.

Oh noes that is sexist recoils the minds of those still bothering to read but something needs to be said. Men and women are physically different. They have different chromosomes that make up their DNA. Men and women use different sides to their brain predominately. Women on average have a slower heartbeat to men. The pelvises of both genders are at different angles. The muscle groupings are different. At some point people have to realise this. If you look down the list of athletics World Records of events both men and women compete in then you’ll find zero of the female World Records are actually better than the male inequivalent

Lets just look at the 100m at the World Record is held by Florence Griffith-Joyner at 10.49s. Now to put this into perspective 82 men have broken the 10s barrier. 82. So 82 people have gone at least half a second faster than the fastest woman in history over just 100m. At marathon distance then the difference between the fastest man and the fastest woman in history is twelve minutes. At the 2012 Olympic Games the fastest woman would have finished 64th in a ‘mixed marathon’ race if you look at the times.

So if having the Men’s Marathon Medal Ceremony during the closing ceremony is sexist then the most logical way to ensure there is no discrimination is to scrap female sports and scrap the men’s too and just have one mixed event for all the sports. I think that kills off all the discrimination. It will also mean the amount of women that make the medal podium will dramatically fall but it is the only fair way to ensure no-one is discriminated against. It will stop all these women getting inspired and motivated but that is a small price to pay for equality is it not?

Of course I’m being facetious. I believe that there should be different events for both sexes in events where the physical differences result in the men naturally having an unfair advantage. So for events like snooker, darts I see no need for the two sexes to have different World Championships. In things like athletics, swimming then of course these sports need a men’s and a women’s category.

So to clear up whether having that medal ceremony in the closing ceremony was sexist or not. No it wasn’t. It was just a thing. The only way it could be deemed as sexist would be because women were not allowed to participate in that event because of their gender and the only way to get around that is to have a mixed marathon. That is the only way that is could not be deemed as sexist. Is that what we want?

Just now I was speaking of inspiring people. This is another bugbear of mine. I have read many feminists say they need inspirational women to inspire them and the next generation. Why can’t men inspire people? Did Ian Thorpe inspire both young boys and girls to swim in Sydney 2000? Did Michael Phelps not inspire young boys and girls to swim in 2008? Does Usain Bolt not inspire people to take up sprinting whether they have reproductive organs on the outside or on the inside?

As a man I can (and regularly am inspired) by women. Can women only get inspiration from other women? Now of course it is fair to say if you see someone just like you then you are more likely to be inspired by them but it not a prerequisite. I see so many people who call themselves proudly feminist list all the time the inspiration women but they never speak about men that inspire them. Surely these people are inspired by men as well so why don’t they say as such? Really annoys me that.

I think it is time to move on to an issue that I agree firmly with feminists – not just ideological feminists but also the real world feminists – on. Society looks differently upon men who sleep around and women who sleep around. That is an issue that they rightly bang on about because it is wrong that this is the way it is. If a guy sleeps with 50 girls then who cares. If a woman sleeps with 50 guys then who cares. That is my PoV and that is how it should be seen. People are individual and should be seen as such. It doesn’t matter what people do in their private life. There is no way that you should look at or treat a woman differently to a man if they have had the same level of sexual partners.

Time to move on from sex to the human body. Page 3 girls had long been a bugbear of feminists all over the world. They say it is sexist and exploiting women. Well they are right on the first part but wrong on the second. Let me explain why. It is sexist because men are discriminated against because of their gender. A man cannot be a Page 3 girl because of his gender. That is discriminating against someone based on their gender. Is it exploiting women? Well as for exploitation it is less black and white as it were:

The dictionary describes exploitation as such:

1. The act of employing to the greatest possible advantage: exploitation of copper deposits.
2. Utilization of another person or group for selfish purposes: exploitation of unwary consumers.
3. An advertising or a publicity program.

Well The Sun does employ Page 3 girls to the greatest possible advantage but surely all employers employ people that they deem would be to their greatest possible advantage? ITV didn’t hire Adrian Chiles for his smile – they hired him because they felt he would be a job for them better than anyone else they had on their books for example. Channel 4 have hired Clare Balding to front their Horse Racing coverage – are they exploiting the fact she’s very good at her job or are they hiring someone because they believe she’ll do the job well and potentially grow the audience?

So on that front I’m not sure.

Do The Sun utilise the Page 3 models for selfish purposes? Well yes but the Page 3 models also get something out of it. Basically money and exposure (excuse the pun). I don’t think the third description is applicable here. So basically the way I see it both parties get something that they want out of this arrangement. The girls get money and career exposure and the newspaper gets sales.

So yes it is sexist (but not for the reasons most believe) and as for exploitation – I can’t fall down on that side of the ledger because both parties make the deals with a free mind and no pressure. It is the same as grid-girls at the Formula 1. I remember a female cricket correspondent for the Daily Mirror blocking me on twitter when she tweeted of her despair that they exist and I replied that they chose to do it of their own free will. She not only blocked me but sent me some nice abuse afterwards. Classy.

Some women don’t like the fact that these opportunities are available and they feel they are demeaning to women yet other women enjoy these opportunities. Who am I or who is anyone to deny people all the opportunities that they desire? Surely that isn’t in the liberal spirit that many of us try to live by? If a woman wants to pose naked and someone wants to pay her what she wants for that then what is the problem? Should Page 3 girls be banned from selling their image in the newspaper for the greater good of women? That is a genuine question.

As for selling your body I’d just like it on the record that I am very much pro-prostitution for both men and women. I think street=prostitution should be made illegal but legal and licensed brothels are the way forward. These would be safe for both the person selling and buying. It would also make those pressured into prostitution less attractive to men as they know they can get it legally from another source. What man would risk arrest for buying a prostitute illegally when they could buy sex elsewhere legally? I think it should significantly slow down the illegal sex slave trade as these women being forced into it would not make as much money. That is an aside but it might also change people’s attitude towards sex. If a woman or a man wants to sell themselves for sex then I see no reason why they shouldn’t as long as their deeds to not interfere with anyone else.

I’d like to look at some of the differences in society that weigh against men. Now I won’t pretend that women have it a lot worse than men but there are certain things that do not scream out ‘equality’ to me. For example girls can join the scouts these days but boys cannot join the guides. Now the reason given for this is that young girls need the safety of the no-boy environment to blossom and grow but boys do not need that environment. Also Tomboy’s are accepted but Janegirl’s are not. If people are fine with girls that prefer more traditional male pursuits then why are boys in the opposite situation not assisted and allowed to explore their perceived feminine side?

Also many women want a female doctor and a female midwife even though their male counterparts are trained in exactly the same way. Just because a woman has a vagina doesn’t mean in a medical sense they are more or less qualified than their male counterparts. My sister when signing up for a new doctor was told that she should sign up with a female doctor because of the family history of breast cancer. She said she didn’t care as all doctors are trained the same way and she believed that a male doctor was just as likely to notice any issues.

Isn’t that sexist behaviour by the people who want a female doctor (or men who want a male doctor) or is it just a thing? Someone feels more comfortable with someone of the same gender. Most would say that but surely if you said that you didn’t want a black doctor because you are more comfortable with a white doctor then that would be racist would it not? So what is the difference here?

Just putting it out there. Now I want to talk about compliments. Last year I commented to a shop worker at her till as I liked her hair as it was different to how she usually had it and I thought that it looked nice. Is that sexist? I have said before that I like a guy’s shoes or clothes or even hair. Is saying someone’s hair is nice sexist or is it just a thing?

Louise Shaw in her piece I linked to earlier says of this, ‘First of all, if you are concerned you’re probably not crossing it – the sweetest guys can sometimes get all wrapped up in what they are saying and where they might be going wrong, and they are the ones most unlikely to be causing the issue.’ Result. I’m probably not crossing the line. Well there is very little chance that I am because I rarely hang around with women (or anyone in all honesty) and even if I do then the likelihood of me giving them a compliment is low because I am always afraid that they’ll take it in the wrong way (way to go self-confidence).

I say this but I must point something out. I have seen women say what I’d deem as harassing comments to guys on a night out. I have also seen women get what I’d call harassed but actually like the attention and I have seen them cop off and go home with guys who I’d say harassed them. Here is the problem. Not everyone is the same. Women say they don’t like being called darling’ or ‘babe’ but heck nor do I and I have been called those words on many occasions – mostly in shops by shop assistants. Do I think they are being sexist or do I think it is just the way they speak? I think the latter hence why I don’t worry too much about it.

Last thing I want to talk about is quotas before I get into rounding this thing up. I do not believe in quotas. It is an issue that splits people down the middle – certainly within the Liberal Democrat Party. Women have exactly the same opportunities to become MPs within the party. Is it fair to introduce quotas that would potentially stop better candidates becoming PPCs in the short-term so in the long-term the numbers are more equal? Would the diversity mean that also a certain percentage of PPCs need to be of different ethnicities or of different sexual persuasions? If 9% of people are gay then should 9% of PPCs be gay as well? At what point do you stop?

I think that as long as there are equal opportunities then the best candidate should win out. I always say the following which is taking things to the nth degree but still I do believe it is a valid point. People of a white background enslaved people of black backgrounds for far too long and treated them as second class citizens (if that). So would it therefore be fair for the people of black backgrounds to enslave the white people for the same amount to time to make everything even? I know it is a big stretch but when you look at it then you’ll see it is not too far apart.

As women were treated as second class citizens for the majority of the human race – should there be quotas that would discriminate against men in the short-term to get long-term equality or is having equal opportunities and letting things naturally evolve to parity? It is one that will always divide people and not necessarily along gender lines and not even all feminists agree on this.

Now to start rounding this epic off firstly women get it an awful lot worse overall. There is no argument from me but it does work both ways. I believe in both equality and equal opportunities. However I also think that people need to realise that not everything is sexist if it is pro one gender or the other. Some things are just things. This is why I often like to poke at those I call radical feminists because they pick up on issues that aren’t remotely sexist to sum up how sexist everything is. Some things as I said are just things. People need to realise that men are different to women in many situations. However men are different to other men and women are different to other women. No man speaks for all men and no woman – or group of women – should ever speak for all women.

We are all individuals and we are all different. If you disagree with everyone of the previous 4,291 words then please agree with the previous sentence. The fact is we are all different and we all find different things offensive. I for example don’t like South Park and find it crude and offensive. However I love Bottom. We are all different and that is something that I really think a lot of people struggle to understand. I got a sense the other day that some people truly believed that people tweeting using the #menagainstrape hashtag were heroes and those who didn’t clearly advocated rape in some form. I cannot tell you just how offensive I found this. I really did.

Just because the three men Louise quoted earlier made dumb comments and believe dumb things does that taint the whole of the male species or does it in fact just taint the three individuals involved? I must say for me it’s only the latter. If a woman comes up to me and pinches my bum and giggles and says ‘alright darling?’ do I think that all women invade my personal space and have eye problems? No I don’t. If a girl in a club grabs my balls and gives them a squeeze do her actions influence my thoughts on all women or just the person involved? Just the person involved.

So ideologically I’m a feminist as I advocate equal opportunities for women. As I quoted earlier a feminist is, ‘an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.’ Well to be blunt if there is a member of the Lib Dems who doesn’t believe that then I will be genuinely shocked. However I struggle when the radical feminists try to find issue with every little thing. There are just so many fights that women (and men) need to fight to gain parity in everything that they do that to find fights that aren’t really sexist in origin just seems like a waste.

There is a debate about how to gain equality without infringing on equal opportunities and that is ont something I have an answer to but I do firmly believe that any form of quota system would be unfair. Feminism is a force for good but the problem is there is no single voice. Feminists know their goal but they have no uniform idea of how to get there and that causes factions where most people believe that equality is the end goal, some say equal opportunities will result in this goal, some say that it won’t but some even want equality but only up to a certain point.

Some feminists believe that women deserve longer maternity leave to men and feel that they are the more important bond with the child compared to the father. Surely that is not the case? Surely a father and a mother should be equal but then of course they negates the ideal that the sexes are different. Women produce milk for the child whereas the man does not. Therefore they are different so should they be treated as such or should equality overrule the physical differences of lactation?

I’ll end with this. I saw on everydaysexism people saying they felt it was sexist for men to say ‘after you’ or to offer to carry their bags as they felt offended by this. After reading this I refused to carry my sisters bag today as I didn’t want to be accused of being sexist. Again I did this facetiously but the fact is what I’d call good manners some call sexist. Society has gone mad. Mad I tells ye.

So yes. Feminism ideologically I’m fully behind. In a practical sense though the only way I can assure I’m not potentially being sexist is to never even communicate or look at someone of the opposite gender. This is hard. It is really hard. I like leaving the apartment but in the real world outside these four walls there are women. If I look at the wrong one and smile I might be being sexist in their eyes. I might be being sexist in you – the reader’s – eyes. It is just a minefield out there.

There are some of my considered thoughts on sexism and feminism. I’m proud to want equality so therefore I am a proud feminist but in the literal sense of the word. What I cannot support or put my name to is the radical feminism which I’m afraid to say is the form that most people see. Those who see sexism in everything that they do and cannot see that it can work both ways. Those who think that a handful of people can speak for a whole gender. I just cannot abide such a thing.

Neil Monnery. Man. Liberal Democrat. Feminist. Has spent nearly four hours writing this. I hope a few people actually read the whole thing!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Are the folk at Lib Dem Voice sexist pigs or is it just the whole Lib Dem Party who are?

Now that it a title and a half *sits back and dreams of a job being a tabloid sub editor and returns to the situation of sitting in his PJ bottoms with a half eaten galaxy caramel on his desk* oh well we can all have a bit of escapism. Obviously the title is way over the top. I like to do that every so often but there is a real question to be had – and one that has been mused by arguably everyone’s favourite blogger Caron Lindsay. Oh on a second the phones is going:

Caller: Hi Neil, it’s your editor speaking.

Neil: Oh hi Ed, what can I do for you?

Caller: Just reading the opening to the blog post you are writing and I think you made an erroneous error.

Neil: Oh, how so?

Caller: You put the word arguably in the previous sentence before you started typing out our fictional phone call.

Neil: Ah yes, how remiss of me. I shall re-write.

Caller: Good job. Keep me the blogging. Maybe someday a publication will finally call you but don’t hold you breath.

Neil: Cheers Ed. Always nice to know you have faith in my abilities.

So as I was saying, there is a real question to be had – and one that has been mused by everyone’s favourite blogger Caron Lindsay. Over on her post entitled Lib Dem Voice’s Liberal Voice of 2011 – Vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton she makes the point that only one of the shortlist for said award carries her reproductive organs on the inside of her body instead of dangling out and looking rather ugly (I think I’m paraphrasing but you should get the jist).

You can read the full list of candidates behind this link but there are seven men, one group of people and a woman on the shortlist.

One thing should be noted at this point which probably gets the good folk at Lib Dem Voice off the hook already regarding my sexist pig taunt and that is it wasn’t the editorial staff who chose the shortlist. It was indeed the members. Apparently there were 230 nominations and a person (or group of people) needed five nominations to make it to the public vote. So the rules for selection of the shortlist are quite clear and unless they secretly deleted a few nominations and cackled around their cauldrons then we can disspell the myth (that I created but others have been saying) that they are sexist pigs (again my terminology).

So that leaves us with the question as to whether it is in fact the Lib Dem Party members (either as a whole or as a group who took part in this survey) who are sexist pigs. Now I don’t know for sure just how many people took part in this survey. I haven’t approached LDV to ask for that information because. Well just because. However I am going to hypothesise that at least 25% of those who filled in the survey were women. I suspect it was in fact much nearer a 50/50 split but I think a 25% minimum would be accepted by all.

So 25% of nominations were from women and still only one women got the five votes needed to make the shortlist. This doesn’t bode well. Are women sexist too against their own kind in a strange case of hating themselves? It is a possibility but I suspect a rather long one. What is more likely is that people struggled to come up with candidates considering in a way what a bad year it was for liberals around the Globe.

Looking at the shortlist there are certainly one or two people (or groups) on there that don’t scream out either ‘liberal’ or ‘done a great job of being a public liberal’ this year but that is just my opinion. It is an opinion shared by many but it was an open vote. Isn’t that how we do things as a party? Isn’t being liberal about free speech and giving people the right to say and vote for who they want in situations like this? I didn’t see any small print when joining up to the party that promoted positive discrimination and that we had to hit certain quotas for things.

I have some sympathy with Caron as it is clear that some of the women she mentions are more deserving of making the shortlist. However the members who filled in that survey – and as far as I’m aware it was an open survey available to any member – didn’t nominate any women apart from the future President of the United States of America the required five times. Enough women voted in the survey and they didn’t believe that any other woman was deserving.

In the comments underneath her blog we discussed the piece and she made a point replying to my viewpoint on the lack of women in the BBC SPOTY shortlist, I said, ‘I know you had a similar PoV regarding BBC SPOTY and the male led short-list. I didn’t. Not because I’m a man but because no woman excelled in a sport or an event that captured the imagination of the public. How can you win Sports Personality of the Year award if most people haven’t heard of you? I’d heard of all the women you listed but that is because I’m a sports nut. However I wouldn’t recognise some of them if I bumped into them in the street. Now there is a debate to be had about whether women’s sports get enough exposure but that is a debate for another comment. This is already far longer than intended.’

Caron replied with, ‘Just look at any BBC panel discussion or sports personality list. And your comment on the latter is a bit chicken and egg. How are these sports going to capture the imagination of the public without coverage?’

A good question and one I will get into in another blog post in the near future. There are good reasons why that is the case but this piece is on the people at Lib Dem Voice and the sexism within our party.

The fact I put together a long blog post on this was due to this comment, ‘I do worry about our party sometimes. I’d love to see the gender balance of the survey participants to see if my theory that boys choose boys applies in this instance.’

Now we know the split between male and female members of the Lib Dems is fairly even at the last time I saw a public breakdown of the figures (I tried to find a link but I can’t – I did read this a few months ago – I think the figures were from 2009 though). So the potential people filling in this survey was fairly even. I know there are plenty of female Lib Dem bloggers and plenty who comment on Lib Dem Voice. So there was more than enough women to get more women on to this shortlist if indeed boys vote for boys and vice versa. Is it shortlist or short-list? Chrome doesn’t like the term ‘shortlist’. Anyway so her hypothesis that ‘boys chose boys’ is an interesting one but not one I can agree with. I’m pretty sure most (if not all) members voted for the people that sprung into their head first when faced with this question.

I don’t think many people who describe themselves as ‘liberal’ are sexist. I don’t think many who reply to these things consciously think ‘need to vote for men to keep down women’. I just don’t think that. I think in more likelihood more people (both men and women) nominated men because the women highlighted as potential nominees by Caron in her piece are not all known well to the liberal community. They are outstanding candidates for what they have done but how many people would think of them when asked ‘who is the liberal voice of the year?’ Not too many and that has been seen by how the public and open nominations went.

So we can do one of two things. Have a judging panel of respected people to put together the shortlist instead of an open nomination. We could do that but all the issues over the Blog of the Year Awards showed that some people don’t like that as there weren’t enough women nominated there either. So this time they went with an open nomination and not enough women were nominated there either. The poor folk at Lib Dem Voice just can’t win!

To summerise. The folk at Lib Dem Voice aren’t sexist pigs and the people that nominated in this process aren’t sexist either. Now if you want to ask the question as to whether the women mentioned had their stories covered in high enough detail by the media in this country and around the Globe then that is most certainly a fair and reasonable question to ask. However believing that ‘boys vote for boys’ and that there is an agenda at play. I think that is a bit of a stretch.

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The Mock The Week lack of women feminist debate – my 2p worth…

Last week it all kicked off on twitter when some people said that there were not enough women on the Mock The Week panel. The show discussed it via their twitter feed but decided to draw a line underneath the debate. A blogger wasn’t happy and put together a blog entitled Mock the Week Mock the Women which she posted yesterday. She describes herself as a feminist and as an active member of the Bristol feminist network so that is her words not mine so don’t say I’m feminist bashing before you’ve read my 2p worth…

Jo Brand commented two and a half years ago the following (from The Guardian:

Women don’t want to go on panel shows for six reasons. 1) They won’t get a word in edgeways. 2) They may be edited to look stupid. 3) They may get the piss taken out of them. 4) They may not be funny. 5) They don’t like competing for airtime. 6) They may be patronised, marginalised or dismissed.”

Well let’s look at them one-by-one.

1) They won’t get a word in edgeways – That is a fair point as even Frankie Boyle has complained about this. So I can’t disagree.

2) They may be edited to look stupid – Well so can anyone. They have edited the show to make all the comedians look stupid from time to time. Can’t really agree on this one.

3) They may get the piss taken out of them – Er…yes. Have you not seen TV panel shows? When Lee Mack takes the pee out of the very notion of David Mitchell going into Argos is that unfair? So I can’t agree on this one either.

4) They may not be funny – Then why are they in stand-up comedy in the first place?

5) They don’t like competing for airtime – That is an issue but that is the nature of the beast.

6) They may be patronised, marginalised or dismissed – Yep but so can male comedians if they don’t bring a lot to the show. Are producers under duress to ensure everyone gets the same amount of air time whether they are funny or not?

Look Mock The Week is pretty tired these days and I never watch when it’s on although I often will stick in on iPlayer whilst working at some point during the week. There are good female stand-up acts around and some of them should be on the show but should they be invited on to the show just to fill a quota or do they want to make it because they are deemed good enough to be booked for what is still a prime gig to get some exposure?

Looking through the list of women who have been on the show and some of them just aren’t very good. Saying that a lot of the men weren’t very good either. Would I want to see more of Gina Yashere or Lauren Laverne on Mock The Week? No. No I wouldn’t. Would I want to see more Sarah Milligan or Lucy Porter? Yes I would.

Further on in the blog linked at the top of this piece the author writes, ‘But us feminists – we’re not done. Because contrary to Mock the Week’s dismissal, this issue matters. It touches on big issues of cultural silencing of women’s voices, sexism and misogynistic assumptions about women and men.

And this is what pisses me off the most. They say it matters but do they mention anything when you see that the % of women on the show is more than the % of comedians from ethnic backgrounds. So make a huge stink about lack of women but they don’t even mention the fact that comedians from ethnic backgrounds are represented even less.

I don’t see Mock The Week (or the BBC) as a closed shop. I think it is fair to say more people have heard of comedians like Ed Byrne or Stewart Francis or Milton Jones. Is the BBC meant to put together the most popular show for the license fee payers or is it there solely to give everyone a fair crack of the whip? Should they have quotas they need to fill on Mock The Week and other shows? Should 10% of all TV presenters be ginger for example?

Women can be just as funny as men. We all know this. However in reality on the stand-up circuit there are 249 listed on the comedian site Chortle who are female of the 1,380 listed, which means that 18% of the comedians listed have their reproductive organs on the inside of their body instead of the outside. The percentage of guest panelists on MTW who are female is 13% so it isn’t a huge disparity compared to how many are active on the circuit.

I don’t see this as a big issue facing women in this day and age but clearly I’m wrong…

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