Tag Archives: sexism

Neither cure nor endure

Back when we first evolved into naked apes, skin tone for human beings was normally high in melanin. Low-melanin skin (“white”) is a genetic freak that may have provided some advantage for living in latitudes where there’s little sunshine for a large part of the year – or it may have happened by accident, a group of freaks moving northward.

VV Brown wrote in September:

In 2010 I was selected to be one of the first black faces for a Marks & Spencer campaign. Many people in the industry questioned my motives. Being a musician and never having previously modelled, I was constantly asked “Why Marks & Spencer?” Only now can I fully understand the driving force that led me into the modelling world.

I began modelling because I was that young girl looking into the magazines and wondering why I didn’t see more faces like mine looking back at me. Whatever tiny impact it made, I wanted to empower the young black women around me, to feel liberated at the inclusion of a black female in a high-profile British campaign.
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Filed under Racism, Women

Some men don’t like women to answer back

Cambridge Union Society debater Rebecca Meredith had this to say about the sexist heckling she and her debating partner were subjected to at the Glasgow University Union three months ago:

During the debate, a select number of male students, including former committee members and even an ex-president, made sexual comments about our appearance, shouted “shame woman”, booed loudly and questioned “what does a woman know anyway?”. This was not mere heckling, and not related to the content of our speeches. None of the male speakers faced the same treatment. After the debate, a member of this group shouted “get that woman out of my chamber” as my partner Marlena passed.

When female students heard these comments, one confronted the male members and was told to stop being a “frigid bitch”. After the debate, a female Cambridge student rose to confront the perpetrators. The organisers of the tournament, and GUU committee members, begged her to sit down and not “cause trouble”. I myself confronted one of the male members concerned, and the GUU committee, only to be told that it was “to be expected” and “par for the course” that women would be booed in the GUU chamber. When I asked whether they would accept the treatment of racial minority speakers in the same way, I was told “they would be booed too, but we don’t have them here.” The committee accepted we were booed because we were women, not for any other reason, but refused to take action against their members.
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Filed under Education, Women

Women get paid less

Male-female pay divideToday is International Women’s Day, and there are many nice liberal articles about the reasons for the gender pay gap. Women get paid less than men. Jobs that are traditionally regarded as “for women” are also routinely paid less than jobs traditionally regarded “for men”.

Ever since I started working in IT I’ve been told that I make less than a man with the same skills. I chose to ignore that and focus on doing an awesome job, figuring I’d be paid what I was worth. I chose to believe that employers wouldn’t take me for granted and would reward my skills and abilities. In fact, I once had a boss who coached me to always ask for a pay rise and log my successes to ensure I always kept pace with the men in the company. I thought he was the norm – I thought all bosses wanted everyone to be equal and succeed.

Boy was I ever wrong.

While sexist conditions on work affect the average woman’s pay compared to the average man’s pay – when women take a couple of years off to have children, the work world is arranged so that this affects her promotion and pay prospects: the structure of work and career is fundamentally arranged to suit a man with a wife: a woman with childcare responsibilities may have to take part-time work or look for a job dependent on location and childcare affordability – the overriding factor is just as clear: women get paid less for being female. A women entering full-time work as a graduate will get paid less than a man who has also just graduated.
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Filed under Economics, Women

Dear Tom Midlane

Lolcat: Im in ur knapsak enjoyin ur privilijYou appeared annoyed this afternoon on Twitter when I did not greet your advice with the respect you felt it deserved.

I’m sorry. It’s difficult to remain (relatively) polite and to the point when we have only 140 characters to explain why I do not agree with you, nor do I respect you.

“The left”, however variously defined, is broadly speaking a movement for social justice and equality and against privilege. If you are accustomed to playing the game of life at the lowest difficulty setting there is, yet still consider yourself to be on the left, you are probably used by this time to having people who play the game of life at higher difficulty settings advising you to check your privilege. Indeed, that’s possibly what inspired you to write this article to which I am responding at terrible length and very late.

The left, it’s fair to say, has a long tradition of infighting. Groups with only a hair’s breadth difference in ideology splinter off into rival factions, aggressively defending their interpretation of the One True Path. It’s the perfect example of what Freud called “the narcissism of small differences”: communities with adjoining territories and seemingly identical goals who engage in constant feuding, striking outlandish poses to differentiate themselves from one another.

It’s important to reflect that the movement for social justice has, over the past two hundred and twenty years, accomplished paradigm shifts in the ways we think and act. We take for granted that there is something wrong with slavery, with war crimes, with rape: we assume that women have a right to our own property, that employees have a right to safe working conditions, sick leave, days off: that children have a right to shelter and food and care even if their parents can’t provide for them: that people too old or too sick or too disabled to work should be cared for still. True, I can think of examples in every country in the world in which those rights are violated, but it’s not so long ago in the history of humanity that none of these things could be taken for granted by anyone.
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Filed under Disability, Equality, Human Rights, Justice, LGBT Equality, Poverty, Racism, Women

Religions can discriminate for religious reasons

The Synod needed a two-thirds majority to allow the ordination of women as bishops in the Church of England. The Synod has 467 members divided into three houses. Each of the three Houses – bishops, other clergy, and laity, needed to agree by 2 to 1 that women can be bishops.

Given that for twenty years women have been ordained priests of the Church of England, you might ask what the special issue is about bishops? The answer is, if you’re flatly of the belief that God just doesn’t approve of women becoming priests, then you can easily avoid a woman priest. (Well, more or less.) But bishops ordain priests. If you believe God holds women inferior and unable to be priests, then it follows that women can’t be bishops: that priests ordained by a bishop who’s a woman aren’t proper priests. But as those priests will be both women and men, you won’t know for sure if the priest with whom you are dealing is a real priest, validly ordained by a man, or invalidly ordained by a woman.
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Filed under Equality, Religion, Women

Scottish Arts Council

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve been putting together a list of women either born or living in Scotland who could have been asked (but most of them weren’t) to be judges at the Creative Scotland Gala Awards Ceremony. There are currently over seven dozen names on the list: the list includes women who are not white, who are not able-bodied, who are not cisgendered, who are not straight.

None of this diversity is apparent to me in the Daily Record/Creative Scotland panel.

Between them, Creative Scotland and the Daily Record asked at least half a dozen women – Creative Scotland claims over a dozen were asked. None of the dozen women could manage it, and CS just gave up and decided to have an all-male panel: two men from the Daily Record, a man from Creative Scotland, a man from the BBC, a man from the Royal Conservatoire Scotland, and two writers: Tom Pow and Sanjeev Kohli.

I’m sure both Tom Pow and Sanjeev Kohli were fine judges. (Kohli could not be present for the judging, and cast his vote remotely.) This is not to decry the quality of the judges selected, but to point up that this failure to have even a gesture towards gender balance does not in any way reflect either the diversity of Scotland or the Scottish arts community, and certainly does not reflect well on Creative Scotland’s aspiration to put equality at the heart of its activity.
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Filed under Equality, In The Media, Scottish Culture, Women

Lego: Sexism Trumps Capitalism

If you’re interested in Lego, you can skip the first 10 minutes of this promotional video, which is a rather dull little film about a Danish family of carpenters and toymakers.

In or about 1980, Lego stopped trying to market itself as a toy suitable for both girls and boys to build with, and started to aim itself purely at boys.

Twenty years later:

“The biggest issue we had was in early 2000 where we were actually losing money, coming out of 30 years of constant growth and constant profit growth,” [Poul Schou, senior vice president of Lego product group 2] said. “Then suddenly in 2000 to 2003 we were faced with a number of difficult years. And I think the biggest mistake, the biggest challenge we had at that time was that we actually lost our interest in boys in our core group.”

Pure capitalism would say “Gosh, we used to sell Lego to girls and boys. Now we’ve been trying to cut out our sales to girls for 20 years – just long enough for a whole generation of children to grow up knowing that Lego is for boys – and our sales are down! Maybe we should stop trying to cut our market by 50% and sell to all children, just like we used to!”
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Filed under Childhood, Children, Feng Shui Kitten Fixes Stuff