Women Are Doing It For Themselves – Or Are They?
What better way to start a Sunday morning but with this quote from William Golding the man who wrote Lord of the Flies and has his finger on the pulse.
What is the definition of feminism? ‘The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.’ Seems fair enough so why the uphill struggle?
Remember Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady? ‘Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” he asked. “Men are so honest, so throughly square, eternally noble, historically fair.” Excuse me? He goes on: “Why can’t a woman learn to use her head, why do they do everything their mothers do, why don’t they grow up like their father instead?”
Times they are a changing Professor H.
Women are not more like men but these days we have many more opportunities open to us in both employment, travel and lifestyle and we have determination. Even though it’s 100 years since some women entered the political arena and were ‘allowed’ to vote, Emmeline Pankhurst began agitating in 1903. Massive moves forward since but according to Angela Saini there’s room for improvement, I’ll say – on average females are paid one fifth less than men.
Angela is a most interesting woman, science journalist and broadcaster, European Science Journalist of the Year, she has won many awards for her writing including from the Association for the Advancement of Science and with a masters degree in Engineering from Oxford University and a Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology she’s worth listening to as her audience found last Friday when she spoke at the NI Science Festival. Her subject, Science in Society is a fascinating one as I discovered when I talked to her. A lot of research has gone into trying to determine if there’s a biological difference between men and women, are women inferior to men designed to be housewives rather than achievers in the workplace?
She talks of a study at Yale University in which more than 100 scientists were asked to apply for a vacancy as a laboratory manager. Every resumé was identical except that half were submitted under a female name and the other half under a male name. Those with female names rated significantly lower in competence and hire-ability proving that bias is still abroad.
In her book, ‘How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story’, Angela investigates the science behind the stereotypes and it makes interesting reading.
Society is still controlled by men so by and large they call the shots. This whole uproar about grid girls and darts hostesses came about because men at the the President’s Club behaved in a boorish way and this was exposed in the newspapers. I know for a fact that hen parties are just as bad so, behind closed doors, does anything go?
Society is rebelling against.
For instance witness that page three girls no longer disgrace the Sun newspaper and beauty pageants are no longer on television. In Victorian times showing an ankle was deemed immodest, when I started working our desks had modesty boards across the front to protect our legs being on display but on the other hand as Angela points out, all this pressure on virtue could lead to repression.
If a young woman is happy to express her sexuality and make money is that OK? Someone said on television that these girls were a bad role model for young women and boys, skimpy dress and provocative poses. If that’s the case, Little Mix are on borrowed time!
Our moral judgement is a personal thing which gives rise to the differing opinions on whether grid girls are doing a useful job or just being eye candy. Their talent is their personality and their good looks and, just like a female nuclear physicist, they are making a wage to pay their bills and bring up their family so what’s wrong with that? I was incensed when I heard someone say they were only making pin money and wouldn’t miss it.
Angela will argue the point, do we need a radical overhaul of the way we think about women? At one time I lamented being born a girl only because in my day boys could travel the world, women found it more difficult. I wanted to accompany my grandmother’s coffin to the cemetery but I was told no, only the men follow the hearse. I disobeyed, I did go to the graveside, I did take off when I was 17 to begin travelling worldwide and while I respect most men I find their opinions are often biased against women wanting to achieve on an equal footing.
In a PR firm I did the work of an account executive but I never achieved the title, that was reserved for the boys. I wouldn’t put up with it today.
Women of my generation who have jobs still feel they must have the tea on the table and shirts ironed because mummy said! Thankfully that script has been re-written amongst younger couples, there’s more equality and sharing of duties which is an important and necessary improvement.
The Father Of Evolution
Angela quotes Charles Darwin who professed that women ‘though generally superior to men in oral qualities are inferior intellectually.’ Crass to put it mildly. I much prefer William Golding.
Walk Away Ladies, Make Your Own Decisions
At one time I though if women were in positions of power and decision making the world would be a better place. Despite what Mr. Golding said, just look around at home and abroad – it certainly is no better but then what do they say, behind every successful woman there’s a man trying to stop her.
I am a squirrel, I find it difficult to get rid of items I think are precious. Not a hoarder, just a squirrel. My late parents address book turned up recently and on looking through it, there was no one left alive. Keep it for sentimental reasons or trash it? I decided to have a ritual burning. The result was beautiful and I feel I have preserved something that at one time was all important.
As they smoldered the pages turned in and sighed and I was able to scrunch them up and release all those friends and allow them to float away on the breeze. I’ve never burned a book ever before and never will again but somehow this felt right.
Thank you Helen Wilson of NVTV for your Sunday smiles.
Lady B. Is Back In Town
Really looking forward to The Importance of Being Ernest in the Opera House on Tuesday evening. Gwen Taylor who plays Lady Bracknell is a star. She will be 79 tomorrow and swore that she would ‘fly’ before she was 80 and she managed it over Christmas. For flying read soaring out over the audience on a huge swing, skirts billowing and hair blowing in the wind. “It was wonderful,” she told me, “the only thing was I had to be aware of the crinolin rising a bit high so I got some pairs of green satin bloomers and felt safe!”
Gwen has been acting since the early 70s and rarely out of work whether it’s film or television or stage, memorable for her role in Coronation Street.
Married to Graham Reid, Belfast playwright who masterminded the Billy plays amongst many other tremendous works, she’s looking forward to Belfast but laments there isn’t much time to see around. It’s a busy schedule, rest, refresh and get to the theatre on time! It annoys me when people ask an actor what they do for a real job.
A Lady Of Many Parts
Take Christina Nelson for instance. She also opens on Tuesday in her one woman show, I’ll Tell My Ma. Written buy Patricia Gormley it charts the adventures and mis-adventure in the lives of four generations of one West Belfast family
This talented actress swings from 16 year old, Davina Corrina, “a highly intelligent school girl with a penchant for Russian vodka and the high life to her Mother Chelsea Marie, a 30 something with a tangled love life who is looking to join the mile high club as an air stewardess with CryinAir. The lovable 60 year old Patricia who’s life has been turned upside down with tragedy but sees the way out by turning her life into a book and finally Granny Eileen the fiery 80 year old matriarch of the family who is coping with Facebook, tweeting and her free bus pass.”
All directed by Alan McKee. Sounds good. On top of all of this she is the mother of two young children, writes, directs and has been gathering information for Belfast City Council to arm them with public opinion before bidding for the City of Culture.
Talking of Coronation Street.
Poor Michelle Conor, she only has one expression these days. She should put some sellotape across her forehead to stop the wrinkles. Every time she has a major trauma, which seems to be twice or three times a week, the sellotape would crinkle and remind her to relax. It’s getting on my nerves.