Obama vs Cameron

Before the last US election, I was out on a night out in Aberystwyth and drunkenly bought a copy of Esquire just because Obama was on the cover. This was how much I hoped he would be elected and I wholly bought in to his mantra of change. I was nevertheless still slightly scared to wake up in the morning with a bad hangover and with Obama staring me in the face as I’d passed out with the magazine next to my head.

It hasn’t ended up as I think most of us had hoped (as this article from Owen Jones captures well). But the scary thing is that under Romney everything would no doubt be worse, particularly in terms of gender equality, as this article by Emma Brockes captures when she looks at the influence that female voters had on the election result. Here’s hoping Obama does something in his second term to revive the hope that so many people had before his first term. Still, even if he does manage that, not sure if I want to wake up so close to his face again anytime soon.

In stark contrast, can’t say I had any hope when the Tories had the largest share of the vote in the last election. Dame Helen Ghosh has said that Cameron is out of touch as only 3 women are permanent secretaries. Can’t say the fact that Cameron is out of touch is a big surprise.

But it seems that it’s not just Cameron that’s out of touch, turns out most of us are to some extent. This article about a week of sexism by Laura Bates shows just how widespread sexism is in our society and how we don’t really question these things. I can’t claim to have any moral high ground here. Until a couple of years ago I’d laugh along to many dubious jokes, it’s only recently I’ve felt confident enough to challenge this and be the uncool guy in the corner being uber-pc. But it’s something I plan to do more of, and not just in terms of gender either as I think we all need to do more to challenge everyday discrimination.

On a slightly nicer note, thousands of people have decided to try to lobby for Malala Yousafzai, the young blogger who wrote about the struggle for young women to get an education in a Taliban dominated area. Which is pretty awesome. I’m off to sign the petition now and I suggest that you do the same as it’s a well good idea!

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Newsnight, gender bias and The Mail

I can’t say I regularly watch Newsnight. It’s good to keep up with current affairs, but it tends to be filled with people like me – white middle class guys telling you why what they think is right. It’s ironic then that Friday’s Newsnight (which you can watch here) was slated for having a bias against men on the panel on multinationals avoiding tax. Richard Murphy has claimed that sexual discrimination led to him not being on the panel, with Ellie Mae O’Hagan taking his place instead. Unsurprisingly the Mail approach this cynically, and instead of looking at O’Hagan’s contribution, they look at Poppy Dinsey, who is on the panel as she is running a small business. The Mail rages about how Dinsey “features daily shots of her in outfits including plunging tops, bikinis, and, once, a Playboy bunny costume”. The Mail unsurprisingly seems to think women can’t be attractive and a panellist. You can read O’Hagan’s statement on the whole affair here, which include my favourite last line ever:

And my sign off is an epithet to the Daily Mail: fuck you.

I’m wary that I’m getting sucked into supplying links to the Daily Mail website here, which sucks and also shows that I’m not clever enough to oppose the Mail strategy of putting and incendiary article out there and wait for people to click on it and get annoyed. But Kate Reardon has called for the term “feminism” to be ditched as it’s got negative connotations. Whether this is a legitimate argument can be debated, but it would be easier to defend if the last line wasn’t such a sweeping generalisation (“Of course, sophisticated,  successful branding often relies on being quite manipulative –  but hey, that’s one of the tools that comes as standard in any female arsenal”) and the headline wasn’t so ridiculous (“Ditch the dungarees, it’s time feminism slipped into something sexy”).

On a nicer note – this is quite a cool article in the Huffington Post about how the US Department of State is  trying to make it easier for both women and men to balance their careers with their families. I’ve previously blogged on Anne Marie Slaughter’s comments and how I didn’t think this was a gender issue, but it’s also good to see the department taking a similar stance. As the article says, data points include “how the workforce is changing, including how the eager men are, as well as women, to spend more time with their children and how eager young women are to advance their careers”. Good stuff!

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What Caitlin Moran done?! And what the hell is intersectionality?!

If you follow any feminists on Twitter, it will have been hard to miss the carnage this week when Caitlin Moran said that she “literally could not give a shit” about the representation of people of colour in Lena Dunham’s show Girls. As with a few topics, this is something I haven’t immediately blogged about because it focusses on intersectionality – something which I’m not well placed to comment on as I am the most privileged of the privileged – a white, middle class, able-bodied, straight man. For those unclear on intersectionality and privilege there’s a couple of posts on the It’s Just a Hobby blog looking at this very issue of privilege and the Moran tweets here and here.

But whilst I’ve felt unable to comment on, there’s been some great and/or interesting posts on other blogs looking at this.When it looked like the Moran tweets couldn’t be inflamed further, the Vagenda blogged in defence of Moran. Personally I don’t think there is much defence of saying you couldn’t give a shit about any group of people. Stavvers written a very good blog on the case against Moran.

But one thing the Vagenda blog has focussed on wasn’t such a bad thing – our use of language. I had no idea what intersectionality was (probably because I’m privileged?), but using verbose terms (like I just have) has meant that I had no initial idea what the hell was going on. Turns out I googled it, but I wonder how many people would have echoed the anger of Stavvers if it was a topic they felt they knew something about? Because intersectionality ultimately affects loads of people, but if you’d have asked me earlier on this week I would have had no idea who.

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