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Where Are the Women In Your Life

February 10, 2014

There has been a lot of discussion about all male panels on TV programmes of late and Katy Brand said on Twitter how the vision of a 50/50 split was a far away dream and I remember thinking that if it was representative it should probably be 52/48 split in favour of women. In an earlier twitter conversation on a similar topic about who represent us I tweeted  ” I don’t live in a world with only middle-class/rich white men in it”. Well I’ve been thinking about that statement for the last few days and it’s bugging me, because sometimes it feels like the world is over-flowing with them. Yes middle-class/rich white men aren’t don’t make up the majority of the world population, they don’t even make up the majority of Britain’s population but the power they have wielded of my life have been overwhelming. The majority of my teachers, my childhood doctor, my local MP; The sixth form head who told me that “he didn’t want a girl like me in his sixth form” , my crime was that I’d failed my O’level maths (they probably designed the course and wrote the exam paper). The owner of a local cafe where I worked when I was 17 who tried to kiss me in the stock cupboard then fired me when I told the other waitresses. The surgeon who called a meeting to keep me as his department receptionist (I was working there under the youth training scheme) but was defeated by the board members as they couldn’t afford me; they never employed any of their subsequent youth trainees either. The man in the council who said I seemed like a nice girl & my next offer of housing wouldn’t be in a troubled area where they preferred to put the problem families as he could see I wasn’t going to be a problem. The careers advisor who said I was a sturdy girl and I would be fine. The Maths teacher who hated me. The Head of my Primary school who didn’t like me. I could go on but it would get very boring. When you list it like that together it seems very different to the life lived and experienced maybe you (and I) can’t fully appreciate the huge impact these men had on my life, maybe you’re doing what I am doing and thinking ‘hang on’ how is this fair where are the women in my story and would it have been so very different?

The women in my story are my Mother, my friends, my daughter, Grand-daughter, daughter-in-laws. They are the women I work along side with in the various charities that I have worked at, the nurses, PSCO’s,  the women on Twitter and they have always been the people who have inspired me; the thing that the majority of these women have had that I have found lacking in the men that have wielded their control over MY life is passion for something other than themselves. I often wonder if being denied access to the positions and places of power, this constant keeping down of women just meant that they were pushed sideways? Historically women may have put all their passion into their families but it wasn’t enough, it’s never been enough. We’re intelligent and capable but a woman like me for example could never be a local MP let alone Prime Minister because women are STILL held back by the idea of the IDEAL woman and no woman can be this ideal created by the media and be a woman of noticeable power. What about Margaret Thatcher I hear some of you ask,well I say she wasn’t a feminist, did she have passion for something other than herself? I can’t answer that it wasn’t immediately obvious to me, all I heard was criticism and disapproval and blaming and finger-pointing, no encouragement or understanding, or solutions that didn’t have casualties and losers, like families and communities. This is unlike the ‘ordinary’ women in my life and that I observe, who think to themselves how can I make this better and act in non-destructive ways.

I went for an interview aged 40 something for an Access course in humanities and yes there sat the middle-aged white man, yet a man very much out-of-place a brilliant, passionate capable man who dedicated his life to helping mature students mainly women to reach their potential I’m sure there are others out there who make the conscious  decision that power isn’t their thing, not how power is generally perceived anyway, but how many women have that real choice, maybe it’s not actively removed (though I’m not convinced it isn’t). This choice that women may think they have is a guided choice; women are seemingly channelled by their own decisions, for example you choose to have a child therefore only doors D & E are open to you career wise forget A,B & C unless you are prepared to sacrifice X and if you complain that this isn’t fair well you chose to have a child. For example trying to negotiate maternity leave is unpleasant and unsatisfactory for many women especially the lower the pay scale you are on, employers aren’t always accommodating, they don’t have to be really if they can get away with it and after all they have the power. Equality hasn’t arrived in Britain well maybe it’s arrived but it hasn’t got through customs yet and we need to stop pretending that it has. Too many middle-aged middle-class/rich white men make too many decisions about my life, my daughter’s life, my grand-daughter’s life, your lives; whether male or female; so few people with so much power, are they wielding it for your benefit or for theirs, is their passion for helping you? Where are the women in your life?

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Caroline Criado-Perez

A Pox on the Patriarchy

feministmeup

Lady things, explained.

norfolknonaligned.wordpress.com/

"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

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