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Let’s hear it for the girls

Comments Off on Let’s hear it for the girls 04 February 2018

Let's hear it for the girls

I’ve been thinking a lot about women lately. Not necessarily in a sexual context. More because women, in general, are in the news a great deal, in a variety of contexts. And it seems to me that we are seeing evolution in action.

I don’t know when it started, but the allegations of sexual impropriety against, among others, Harvey Weinstein has moved the goal posts. Before the expose of his behaviour, I did not really know who he was. I had heard him on the radio, seen him on TV chat shows but that was as far as it went. Then, a series of serious allegations started to emerge and they haven’t stopped. On the front of today’s Observer the actor Uma Thurman alleges she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein. She won’t, I suspect, be the last victim to go public.

It is a game-changer because in our male-dominated world we kind of knew this sort of thing was going on. We knew it was about power and what men could do with it and were doing with it. Weinstein used his considerable power to use and abuse women. I cannot begin to express my admiration for the courage of the likes of Thurman.

Then, we had the scandal at the BBC where female talent is rewarded less than male talent. I do cringe a bit when I see female presenters earning hundreds of thousands of pounds a year demanding to earn even more hundreds of thousands of pounds a year because their male colleagues do, not because they don’t deserve it – they do – but because millions of people earn in a year what some of these presenters trouser in a couple of weeks. In seeking equality – which I support, unreservedly – the sheer inequality of our divided country I writ large. I know my concerns about low pay and general inequality should not hamper the fight to achieve genuine equality at the BBC (which is still far better than many, even most, employers).

And finally, the darts walk on girls and the F1 grid girls issue came to the fore. I have no feelings either way about the jobs these women perform. I wasn’t bothered when they were there, performing no function other than to pose for ogling men, and I am not bothered that they will no longer will be. All of these three stories represent evolution, an acceptance, grudging in some parts, that women must no longer be treated as second class, deserving of less opportunities and lower wages. The changes in recent times have been seismic.

Things that were not acceptable still went on and most people in their sectors knew it did. Weinstein was not the first sexual predator and he won’t be the last. Female talent in the media is still regarded as second to men. And because of our male-owned and edited media, women are still there to be looked at rather than admired for their talent. Particularly scandal sheets like the Mail and the Sun offer images of women that are all about how they look, how few clothes they wear, who they are sleeping with. They must not be a pound overweight or have a grey hair. This is the law of a male-dominated society.

These changes are happening despite the best efforts – if that’s what they are – of politicians. The two Tory women prime ministers have done nothing to advance the causes of women and Labour, the so-called people’s party, is run from top to bottom by old and middle aged middle class white men. The politicians talk a good talk but they don’t walk the walk. In politics, women are still too often regarded as existing to make the tea. This is changing, albeit too slowly.

No one is saying that men should stop fancying women if that is their sexual preference. It’s absolutely nothing to do with that. Nothing whatsoever has changed. Sex is sex. It’s attitudes to women that are changing. Donald Trump says he is not a feminist, which means literally that he is not in favour of true equality for women. Who knew? I am unashamedly a feminist whilst at the same time being attracted to women. This is not a contradiction: it is how things should be. It should be the template for the future.

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