You only have to flick through a few radio stations to hear the dominant voice is male. Every Sony award ceremony women are notable by their presence on stage only being to present gongs to Chris Moyles (ok not just Moyles, we all exaggerate). Only last year the imbalance in radio was highlighted by Ceri Thomas’s insistence there were not yet enough experienced female journalists with a skin thick enough to take on the mantle of a Today presenter. Fine Ceri, but if that’s the case why not go up the age and experience scale and draft P.D James in.
photo: Jeff Sandquist
I've used the title Ms for as long as I can remember. Why wouldn't I?
Well, when I was 18 my boss at my terrible telesales job told me I couldn't use the title 'Ms' because it was only for divorced women.
At my right-on university I was informed that the title was only used by lesbians.
And when I got married everyone, even those who didn't have a problem with the fact that I'd kept my own surname, assumed I would now become a 'Mrs'.
I didn't actually beat these people over the head while shouting 'THE WHOLE POINT OF USING THE TITLE 'MS' IS NOT TO DISCLOSE A WOMAN'S MARITAL STATUS! WHY WOULD I CHANGE IT NOW?!', but I wanted to. And it seems I'm not alone.
A new petition on the government's e-petition website calls for Ms to be "the ONLY title for women." Granted, there are only 43 signatures at the time of writing - a far cry from the 100, 000 needed to force a debate in the House of Commons, but it's always nice to know you're not the only one. A similar campaign in France to make Madame the single title for women has more backing. This was started by the brilliantly named Chiennes de garde and Osez le Feminisme and it looks like their idea has crossed the channel.
It might seem like a trivial issue in some respects, but it's a source of annoyance that it's taken as a given that people should be able to tell my marital status from my name - my husband is incredibly important to me, but he has not changed my identity.
Live in London? Want to hear your candidates for mayor speak about issues that affect women? Then you need to get on board with UK Feminista’s contact Ken challenge. UKFeminista have invited the London Mayoral candidates to their pre-election hustings at FEM11. So far both the Lib Dem and Green Party candidates have agreed to come down, but UK Feminista are holding out for the so far silent Ken and Boris.
Here are some of the statistics UK Feminista are hoping the candidates will address-
I am slightly disappointed they haven’t gone down the Kardashian route (I really cannot explain why I know about these people, osmosis maybe) and named the challenge Kontact Ken. I think it’s catchy.
Cameron most vexed.
Instead of starting the Tory conference scraping the barrel of positive things to say, maybe taking a strong stance against people being forced to drive at 70mph when they really, really want to go faster. Cameron began with what he knows really matters. Mumsnet votes.
Cameron fretted to the Sunday Times that people were mistaking him for a “sort of 'all right luv, I'm down the pub tonight’ man”, which as The Guardian’s Jackie Ashley pointed out hilariously misses the point. Of course Cameron is not that kind of man, you have to visit pubs for a start, and they have to be the kind of pubs that have fruit machines.
PM going mad at the match
It’s hard to believe Cameron really believes this is the impression he’s unintentionally given. We are talking about someone with a background in PR here. You do not have to be a feminist to know that men who visit the pub every night without wifey’s permission are not the threat. It is the men in power who have yet to reel in the overwhelming condescension they feel towards grown women. The men who refer to all women as ‘girls’ and believe we are all fools for shoes, diets and chick flicks. Feigning baffled concern when secretary knits her brow at being called ‘sweetheart’ yet again (girls! Knit scarves not brows, you can’t afford the wrinkles). David Cameron knows its better we all have a little snigger a little at the image of him shuffling into a piss-stained pub with his dog on a string than as the posh establishment figure he is.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has overturned the sentence of 10 lashes for a woman arrested for driving. The news was revealed via a tweet by Princess Ameera, "Thank God, the lashing of Shema is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved king."
The severe sentence followed shortly after Saudi women receiving the vote, raising suspicions the lashes were in retaliation from the ruling class. Another woman arrested for driving was released when she agreed to leave the Saudi Women’s group Women2Drive. The group was formed to protest the 35 year ban on women driving; you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton only recently broke her silence on the subject; keep pushing for our politicians to do more. Don’t do your victory lap just yet.
The 40 Days for Life people are back in the UK. Funnily enough I am not going to link to them. For those who need filling in these people hold vigil for 40 days outside clinics where abortions are performed in the hope of deterring people going in. Pro-Choicers have had a rather marvellous idea. Instead of holding debates or protesting the pro-life vigil, Pro-Choice people have organised their own 40 days.
Apparently coming out of nowhere, a Tumblr has been set up urging people to take treats in a show of support for those working at BPAS and other such charities. Squeamish Bikini thinks this is just bloody lovely and will cheer those who are just trying to do their job.
If you want to take part you can find out where your nearest clinic is at here and go deliver them a treat to brighten their day.
The 40 Days of Treats begins now. Pass it on.
The winners of the fifth set of the Scottish Widows & Dods Women in Public Life Awards were announced last night. The awards aim to “celebrate women leaders in society and seek to recognise and promote the work of women in politics, business, the civil service and community leadership.”
There are 12 categories, recognising businesswomen and sportswomen as well as public servants and politicians.
Here are the winners - follow the links to read more about them on the awards website:
Businesswoman of the Year Laura Tenison MBE, Founder and Managing Director, Jojo Maman Bebe
Devolved Parliament or Assembly Member of the Year Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing, Scottish Government
Journalist of the Year Anne McElvoy, Public Policy Editor, The Economist and BBC broadcaster
Local Government Personality of the Year Cllr Mary Mears, Leader, Brighton and Hove City Council
MP of the Year Caroline Lucas, Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion
Peer of the Year Baroness Shirley Williams
Public Affairs Achiever of the Year Ros Altmann, Director General, Saga.
Public Servant of the Year Michelle Stoops, Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, NHS Liverpool Community Health
Sportswoman or Team of the Year Victoria Pendleton MBE
Voluntary Sector Achiever of the Year Sophie Andrews, Chair of Samaritans, The Samaritans
People's Choice Award Justine Greening MP
Lifetime Achievement Award Baroness Shirley Williams
So. A former London School of Economics Masters student is suing the university for “breach of contract, misleading advertising, misrepresentation, and breach of the Gender Equality Duty Act.”
Tom Martin was studying for an Msc in Gender, Media and Culture. He’s quoted in the Evening Standard as saying that:
"The core texts we had to read before each class were typically packed with anti-male discrimination and bias - heavily focusing on, exaggerating, and falsifying women's issues perspectives, whilst blaming men, to justify ignoring men's issues. There was no warning of this sexist agenda in the prospectus."
Does this seem a little... odd to anyone else?
Photo: Gene Hunt
Today, Monday 5th of September, marks the 30th anniversary of the women’s protest at Greenham Common. The Women’s Peace Camp was set up in protest against plans to install nuclear cruise missiles at the base in Berkshire.
Scores of women left their homes and families to ‘take the toys from the boys’, amongst them Fay Weldon and Bea Campbell.
The missiles were removed in March 1991, the last members of the camp left in 2000.
You can see more images of Greenham Common on the BBC Gallery
It seems both sisterhood and Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells still means something in this day and age. As of October this year women readers and writers need no longer be shuffled over to the Women’s Fiction section of WHSmith. All thanks to two women from Tonbridge, Claire Leigh and Julia Gillick who wrote to WHSmith’s chief executive Kate Swann despairing of the pink fluffiness of the Women’s Fiction section and lack of any classics. Their appeal to Swann’s sense of sisterhood worked and now teacher Gillick is encouraging her students to write to supermarkets regarding their choice of shelving labels.
The publishing industry has yet to be queried about its need to put images of disembodied feet (though I suspect the answer to be ‘because all women like shoes’) on novels that fall comfortably into the uncomfortably successful genre of Chick Lit.