Tag Archives: sexism

There’s no hypocrisy in putting grid girls out of work

Formula 1 recently announced that they would no longer have scantily clad women acting as “grid girls” during races. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but there has been a wave of backlash against the decision. The main argument against it appears to be this:

These women have chosen to use their looks to make money, which is their free choice. And now pressure from a bunch of angry feminists has made them lose their jobs. So much for respecting women’s choices. 

Variations of this argument have recently appeared in the Mail, Mirror, Metro and Times.

And it is a terrible argument.

It wrongly assumes that feminists must support a woman’s right to be paraded for her looks on whatever platform she chooses.

But this just isn’t true. Imagine if Prime Ministers Questions decided that, to raise their viewership, a woman would introduce proceedings every week in her underwear. That would be absurd, whether it gave a job to a young woman or not. People don’t have a god-given right to dress in a sexualised way to advertise a brand. Feminists aren’t hypocrites if they don’t support giving people such a platform.

When brands like Formula One promote Grid Girls in the way that they do, it has damaging effects on other women and on society. It implies that women should be seen as decoration – only relevant for their looks – while the male drivers are heralded for their sporting ability. What kind of message does that send to young girls who see them on TV? This isn’t the same as being anti-sex, or saying that women shouldn’t be able to dress how they like in their everyday lives. It’s about context. Why should there be a platform for parading half-naked women during a race? How is that relevant to sport? 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments

The Presidents Club is not the only prestigious men only event

The Presidents Club Dinner has been in the news this week, but I was reminded that this was not the only example of a men only dinner for powerful men at which women were there to provide little more than decoration and entertainment.

Two years ago, Caroline Pidgeon spoke out when the TfL chairman managed to attend 3 dinners without noticing that there were no women there. I wrote at the time:

Transport for London boss Sir Peter Hendy is under fire after he accepted an invitation to attend not one, or two, but three dinners from which women are excluded. The Independent has the story:

The CommonSpace website said that Sir Peter, 61, who receives a £348,000 salary, attended the December dinner in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Portman Square, London, as a guest of the Scottish-based bus company Alexander Dennis Ltd. Photos of the event posted on the society’s website showed a “handsome body of men enjoying their dinner” alongside another picture of female performers in thigh-cut dresses who were said to be bringing “a new spectacle to the dinner”.

The golfing society’s rules state membership is open only to “gentlemen associated with the transport industry”, and that the dinner is “for gentlemen only”. Its website described the gathering as “one of the best sporting dinners of the year. With a glamorous string quartet playing exciting music in even more exciting tight dresses, a troupe of can-can dancers and a truly fun atmosphere”. It added: “Over the years we have been privileged to welcome top men from the worlds of sport, industry, show business and politics. They always enthusiastically wave their napkins to the patriotic sounds of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and leap enthusiastically to the feet when their table’s turn comes to sing ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. Some even do the actions!”

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Jo Swinson on The President’s Club: Time’s up on this crap

Jo Swinson’s words were reassuringly unminced this morning when she condemned the appalling behaviour which took place at the President’s Club Dinner. She praised Madison Marriage, the FT reporter who wrote about it.

All of the women were told to wear skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and high heels. At an after-party many hostesses — some of them students earning extra cash — were groped, sexually harassed and propositioned.

There is something deeply distasteful about some of the richest and most powerful men in the country behaving in that way to young women on a tiny fraction of their incomes.

Jo wasn’t just going to leave it there with a few outraged tweets, though. She thought about how to hold these people to account.

She prepared, and persuaded 40 MPs to sign, letters of complaint to the Charity Commission.

The letter calls on the Charity Commission to urgently investigate the President’s Club “because of the “serious and potentially criminal nature of the behaviour.” and asks that the organisation investigates “whether the Trustees are fit to hold such office, given their apparent failure to properly discharge their duties to protect health and safety of workers, and the reputation of the charity.”

In the letter to the President’s Club Jo states that: “There can be no place in 2018 for respectable fundraising events which objectify women and subject them to groping and harassment.”

She warns that the Trustees have failed in their duty. “Indeed not only do the reported events of last week impact on the reputation of the Presidents Club Charitable Trust, they also put at risk the reputations of charities that were being supported by the event.

“No doubt these charity partners, sponsors and donors to the Presidents Club Charitable Trust will be reassessing their involvement with your charity following these revelations.”

And then she wrote another letter to the Trustees of the Presidents’ Club which was very well-resaarched and worth  publishing in full in case anyone else needs any of the references in it to tackle another injustice.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 35 Comments

The building blocks of #metoo

Jared O’Mara is hardly the first MP to have been caught out expressing prejudiced views. It just goes to show that if you are known to have said something dodgy on the internet over a decade ago, it is likely to find its way into the hands of your political enemies.

For Liberal Democrats, though, it’s all a bit galling. O’Mara beat our Nick Clegg in a particularly cruel twist of fate in June’s General Election. His victory meant that Parliament was deprived of the most expert voice on Brexit. Where Nick fought for equality, O’Mara’s views as an adult have been far from civilised.

My first thought was to write a piece saying that he must stand down from the Women and Equalities Committee in Parliament. Thankfully pressure was brought to bear on him and he resigned this evening as our Paul Scriven had demanded. Sadly that committee still has Philip Davies on it. He, you might remember, thinks that he and other men are voiceless and being drowned out by these feminist types.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

LibLink: Layla Moran: If Philip Hammond thinks driving a train is so easy “even a woman can do it” maybe a career change is in order

In an article for the Independent at the weekend, Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran took Philip Hammond to task for his alleged remark that driving a train is so easy “even a woman can do it.”

She pointed out that they can, but how many women do this highly paid job?

The key fact from the latest Hammond row was glossed over, but it is the real scandal: that just 5.5 per cent of train drivers are women. And the average annual salary of a train driver is just shy of £50,000, way higher than most women earn a year. What, I want to know, are ministers doing to enable more women to drive trains?

Hammond, she said, had form for sexist remarks:

Earlier this year he accused Labour MP Mary Creagh of being “hysterical”. Her crime? Daring to ask the Chancellor about the effect of Brexit on British businesses with bases in Ireland.

The question was all too pertinent. I was talking to one of the country’s most eminent constitutional lawyers last week (sorry Philip, but she did happen to be female) who flagged up the issue of the Irish border as one of the very most intractable in Brexit negotiations. Her conclusion was that ministers have no solution, because there is no solution.

And, of course, he is not the only Tory known for such casual sexism:

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Yeovil UKIP candidates blame NHS crisis on women doctors

If you listen to most experts, the reason for the crisis in the NHS comes from under-resourcing and an aging population. But, no, UKIP council candidates in Chard in Yeovil have come up with another explanation. It’s all the fault of women doctors and their career breaks and part-time doctors.  Buzzfeed has the story:

The leaflet was produced by local UKIP councillors in Somerset who suggest alleged positive discrimination in the GP hiring process could ultimately lead to local surgeries closing altogether.

“How many female Doctors are there in your surgery working 2 or 3 days a week?” it asks, warning the issue could result in thousands of patients being left without access to medical care when GPs retire.

They have a quote from Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Yeovil, Daisy Benson:

UKIP might wish we were living in the 1950s, but it’s 2017!

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The Language of the Left – and how it alienates progressives from their own causes

 

“Privilege”, “trigger warnings”, “safe spaces”, “mansplaining”, “tone policing” and “cultural appropriation”. These terms are the Language of the Left. Anyone who has talked politics with lefties will be familiar with the way that they are thrown around in discussions willy-nilly. And each of them describes a problem which should be taken seriously.

Take “mansplaining” for example: when men explain things in a patronizing way to women, because of an imagined authority on a certain subject. This happens all the time. It happens in offices; at dinner tables; on television; in politics. If you haven’t seen this in action you’re just not looking hard enough. And “trigger warnings” serve an important purpose as well. People who suffer from PTSD after sexual assault can be severely distressed when reading descriptions of rape, for example. Flagging this up to avoid aggravating their condition is no different from warning epileptics when there will be flashing images on TV. It’s completely sensible.

But once these terms become trump cards which can automatically win arguments and shut down discussions, then mission creep seeps in, as people use them more and more lazily. People don’t just use trigger warnings to flag up distressing content any more. They splash them in front of any Daily Mail article which they disagree with, and claim they are triggered every time they hear an opinion which they don’t like.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 145 Comments
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