For the greater good

There have been a number of different events over the last week, where it’s been suggested that women should stop fighting for their rights for the sake of the greater good.

There have been a number of incidences of this in the occupy protests. @thenatfantastic has written a really interesting post about her experiences of anti-female language in Bristol, while in North America we have heard accounts of a rape victim accused of damaging the protest by reporting her attack.
Elsewhere, when a tweet went out about involving women with policy, immediately responses came that this shouldn’t be the priority issue, that the attack on the NHS and disability living allowances should be the priority as the need is more immediately felt.

But this thinking is so flawed it makes me really angry.  It is such an over-simplification to suggest that some rights should be put aside for others.  It’s patronising that women’s rights don’t matter as much as others.  When people are asking for solidarity on one hand, to simply dismiss women’s equality as a ‘nice to have’ but not an important right is incredibly insulting.

Many have pointed out that women are not only part of the 99%, they are the majority of it. There are clear links between poverty and women being excluded from education and political life. The poorest people in the world are abandoned and widowed women. So to exclude them from the 99% protests is not just insulting, it’s also making the problems that the protests seek to solve worse.
The culture amongst bankers that has caused these problems – the macho attitude, the ‘too big to fail’ belief, the god complex demonstrated by these idiots, are the same traits that make it uncomfortable and difficult for women to work in this profession. The city is one of the worst perpetrators of the glass ceiling. And yet women are sidelined by protesters against this attitude.

On my other example, of the cuts to the NHS and targeting of the most vulnerable for cuts taking priority over women’s rights; again, by sidelining women the situation is being made worse. Women are disproportionately hit by the cuts because they are so often left to be carers. If women had a greater say in this parliament and especially in this government, perhaps some of these cuts wouldn’t be going ahead. Perhaps someone would have thought through the consequences of these actions if they were the ones left to pick up the pieces.

Whilst there are other very important issues facing the world today, the idea that women should stand aside for the greater good is patronising and harmful. Acknowledging that women can play an important role, and developing equality will improve society.

Women shouldn’t stand aside for the greater good. Women’s rights should be embraced for the greater good.


Blocking porn won’t end sexualisation

I am anti-porn.  I think it exploits vulnerable workers, and promotes attitudes to women that are deeply damaging to society. I think it is really worrying that young people can access violent and inappropriate images at such a young age, so very easily. But David Cameron’s suggestion of an opt in to block internet porn is not something I agree with.

Sianushka has written a great post “Blocking porn is not the answer – ending patriarchy is” explaining how this measure fails to address any of the problems caused by and feeding pornography.  Porn is developed from prevailing attitudes, and all Cameron’s suggestion will do is brush this under the carpet.  It won’t improve education in schools to teach young people about negotiated consent, and that sex isn’t something that girls do to make those horrible boys happy.  It won’t improve the attitudes towards women either in pornography or in our society.

But further, it could seriously curtail women’s right to discuss the issues they face in the world.  About eighteen months ago, there was a little twitter-gizmo doing the rounds to find out who was the filthiest tweeter you knew (sorry, don’t want to google for a link to that, hate to think what might pop up.  But if anyone has it, do let me know).  Just a bit of fun, but built using the same principles that a spam block would use.  And I had a significantly higher score than average.  Now, without claiming to be whiter-than-white, I don’t tweet about sex much.  Except, I tweet a lot about rape, violence against women and female genital mutilation.  I tweet about the sexualisation of young girls and the effect this has on society.  I’m tweeting stories that I think should be read widely, and if circulated in a high-profile enough way, might actually go some way towards changing attitudes towards women.   And yet these stories that flag me as a filthy tweeter, would be blocked by controls preventing porn.

News sites would also struggle to work around this, and so would start using euphemisms for sexual assaults to ensure their readership stays high.  Sexual violence against women would disappear from the mainstream media and be brushed under the carpet along with porn.

The internet, and twitter especially, has given a loud and proud voice to women, who can argue their case for a better world.  We can share stories and raise awareness of issues that we feel passionate about.

You have it wrong Mr Cameron.  Your proposal won’t help end the sexualisation of women.  It will brush it under the carpet perhaps, but it will also make it worse.


Ooh look, women think they can do business

As of today, ‘Mumpreneur’ has officially made it into the Collins dictionary.  It’s always been a word that makes me really angry, but actually adding it to the dictionary, giving it the official “this is an acceptable word to use” has made me really rage today.

We don’t have seperate words for men in business depending on whether they have children or not.  Most of the time we don’t know if they have children or not, and interviews certainly aren’t based around how they manage to juggle business and a family life.  It’s just not that important compared to their business skills.

And yet, women can’t just be in business.  They can’t actually be entrepeneurs.  Instead, we get this horrible and cutesy ‘Mumpreneur’.  Like they’re not really in business, and don’t take it too seriously.  This word actually finds a way to tie even the most brave and dedicated business women back to the kitchen sink.  Don’t be threatened guys, don’t worry, these women aren’t serious competition.  They’re just women playing at business to stop the childcare getting too boring.

But the bit that makes me really angry, is that words like this have been created by people who like to say “I’m not a feminist but…”.  It’s both excusing and justifying traditional gender stereotypes, while at the same time taking for granted all the things feminists have fought for over the last 100 years.  It’s a way of not taking women seriously, without actually coming out and saying that women shouldn’t be in the workplace. 

Except this is EXACTLY what this word suggests – women are mothers first, and entrepenurs second.   Mumpreneur isn’t a cutesy phrase that does no harm.  This is a word that is seriously undermining and undervaluing women’s position in the workplace.  And telling me it’s so well used and well understood that it should appear in the dictionary – well that makes me angry.