Why it’s time to follow Jo’s lead in tackling sexist behaviour

When John Humphrys and Jon Sopel mocked the whole BBC gender pay gap controversy in the wake of Carrie Gracie’s resignation last month, they weren’t really held to account. There was no great show of remorse from them. The BBC could have taken them off air for a couple of days to underline that they were unimpressed with their behaviour. They and their sense of entitlement were pretty much left untouched.

Until today.

Jo Swinson was interviewed by John Humphrys about the new procedures to tackle sexual harassment and bullying in Parliament. At the end of the interview, this happened:

Humphrys was a bit sniffy about it all. He said he’d sent her an email immediately afterwards but that Jo’s question was irrelevant. The interview was, generally, about dealing with (mostly) men’s bad behaviour towards (mostly but not entirely) women. It was entirely appropriate to raise a specific example of a man’s bad behaviour towards a woman.

Men so rarely are put in a position where they have to answer for their sexist behaviour. We should all be bolder, I think, in ensuring that they do. Women across the country will have applauded Jo for her acton today. Let’s follow her example and call out sexist behaviour as and when we see it, whether it’s happening to ourselves or to someone else.

It doesn’t have to be in front of millions of radio listeners. Back in the day, there was a man at a regular meeting I went to who would interrupt me every single time I opened my mouth to speak. It was really starting to annoy me. I had a very courteous, quiet word with him after a meeting and he was quite shocked. He actually hadn’t realised that he was doing it. He never did it again, though, and my relationship with him improved dramatically as a result.

As an aside, who thinks that sending an email is an acceptable form of atonement in a situation like Humphrys’ and Sopel’s conversation?. If you have been caught out demeaning someone, the very least you can do is offer a sincere apology in person or on the phone.

Jo was complimented widely on Twitter:

You can listen to Jo’s whole interview here from about 2 hours 13 in.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • David Westaby 8th Feb '18 - 10:11pm

    I am surprised there are no other comments. We should’ be very proud to have Jo Swinson as the deputy leader. She is making an important impact in an issue that is a fundamental of liberal democracy.
    This has been an inspiring few days with an emphasis on equality , the NHS and homelessness. We are not a one issue party !

  • Well done Jo !!!

  • I’ve been reading Jo’s book. It’s very relatable, and I love that there are practical examples of what the interested reader can do to progress equality without just waiting for legislation.

    I’ve been browsing some of the gender pay gap data, and to say it has been an eye opener is an understatement. I saw the Wellcome Trust published their data yesterday, along with an admission that they have to do better, and proposals on how they plan to do better in the future.

    Time will tell if the pay gap improves, but at least we’ll have a way of finding out.

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