Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Busy Cru-blog Day

My article on the Human Embryology and Cloning Bill is up today on the Liberal Conspiracy site. Loads of comments mostly supportive but with a few saying I'm too harsh on religious people... And it's kindof a fair point. But here's the problem with religion - any other movement: feminism, liberalism, conservatism, whatever is likely to be led by someone from that group whose view represent an average of the members. Religions are led my the MOST religious person, i.e the biggest nutter who then gives the rest a bad name. Anyway do chip in on the debate if you care...

I went along today to the launch of the Fawcett Society Sexism and the City campaign. Very interesting to hear from the speakers they had. They had Polly Courtney, author of Golden Handcuffs, a woman who had worked as a cleaner on ridiculously low pay and a woman who had worked as a lap-dancer in a bar near the city. The lap-dancer was the most shocking to hear from. She described the "no touching" rule as "a joke" and explained how she paid to perform, often came home having lost money, she also talked about there being no-one in the bar she could trust or turn to if there was a problem and how the work had affected her self esteem.

The launch finished with a speech from Tessa Jowell. Odd considering she's Minister for the Olympics, Harriet Harman is Minister for Women. Ms Jowell attempted to shoe-horn in some nonsense about the Olympics providing opportunities for women to get into construction. What annoyed me was every time she spoke about discrimination against women she seemed to be focussed on maternity pay, GCSE choices, confidence, etc. Fortunately I got a chance to ask a question (ended up being the last question) so I asked what she and the government were doing or could do to address not the difficulties of women taking maternity leave or needing flexible hours or making bad choices but the problem of women without children of dependents who had made all the right choices and still weren't getting equal pay and promotions, i.e. the problem of straightforward original SEXISM! Well the question went down very well and got me a big round of applause. Sadly Ms Jowell didn't actually answer it. She suggested I form a network with other women so that I wouldn't feel isolated, which was kind of odd since I was sat in a room with a couple of hundred other women who also care about the issue, so I've really got that covered. Anyway women in the city wouldn't feel isolated if there were more of them, would they! And anyway who is campaigning to an end to feeling a bit isolated? I thought we were after equal pay, equal promotions and equal opportunities... Sadly the format of the event didn't allow for me to grab the minister by the lapels and shake her til she agreed gender pay audits were a good idea. Ho hum.

Finally tonight I was on BBC Radio Five Live's Phil Williams show (click here, scroll down to Phil Williams and click to listen again, then you'll want to scroll through to the second hour of the show) with Holly Combe from the F-Word and journalist Vince Graff talking about whether we'd rather be a man or a woman. And in spite of it all, as I said to the team, I wouldn't take a magic sex-change pill if someone offered me one. Obviously we talked about longer life expectancy and multiple orgasms (or failing that at least longer-lasting orgasms, twice as many sex organ nerve endings, etc), but also about how much "lad" culture hurts men. Guys who feel like they can't express their feelings, can't look after themselves properly, that homophobic, misogynist culture of you-have-to-drink-27-pints-of-lager-or-you're-gay-you-big-girl... Strangely enough pretty much everyone agreed that men have a great deal to gain from feminism too.

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