Today is the day I start subsidising my male peers...

How so, you ask? How generous of me!

As I am likely to earn at least 17% less than them, for work of the same value or skill level.

For women in senior management (like me) that gap widens to 25%. And I understand it's worst in London.

This means I am earning less so that my male peers can earn more!

And before you ask that's 17% less per hour between men and women working full time. The per hour gap is far higher between men working full time and women working part time.

Yes, yesterday, the 30th October was the day of the year when women in the UK got their last pay slip of the day and today they started working for free, when compared to their male peers. It is the reality of the wage gap. Like it was last year.

The wonderful Fawcett Society are continuing to campaign on the pay gap, as they will until it is closed. You can sign the open letter to Peter Mandelson here. (They have a very handy factsheet which you can view here and is where the following stats have come from – scroll down to page 5.

It’s still stuck at 17% no change on last year. And it’s not getting better, not with time, not with better education, not with the fact that fewer women are marrying and having children in their 20’s.

Evidence shows that we are stuck when it comes to equal pay and going backwards when it comes to political representation and being appointed to company boards.

So what to do? Well, the most important thing we need to do is change our culture where women have shoulder the bulk of childcare and unpaid work in the home. This is not an easy thing to do and will changes in legislation and employment law to allow families to share parental leave between them. It will also require men to change their mindset; they need to be just as willing to work flexibly as their partners assume they will have to. But as with all cultural changes, that will only take place over time.

Still irrespective of issues around childcare, 40% of the discrimination that women suffer from is down to simple discrimination.

In the mean time Fawcett are arguing for two clear actions:

1. Mandatory pay audits which would require all companies and organisations to compare the earnings of women and men doing similar work to see if there is a gap.

2. Changes to the law to make it much easier for women to take cases to court, and to allow women to take such cases as a group, with the support of the unions.

As a Liberal I believe in the market and competition; but when the market is not working properly as a result of discrimination then I believe the market needs to be regulated. Greater transparency, in the form of pay audits will do that. And just like Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, employers discriminating against women won’t voluntarily conduct a pay audit. That’s why they have to be mandatory.

Getting depressed about Israel...

Well, it’s so easy to do. It’s been a while since I blogged about Israel; over a year it would seem looking back at all my posts tagged Middle East. It seems the rest of us have become taken up with the US elections and the credit crunch that we haven't had time to think about the wading through treacle that is Israeli politics.

I've written before about my personal interest in the region. My few months spent in Israel in my twenties, taught me more about different cultures and manners than I had learnt in the whole of my life up until that point put together. I think gruff is the politest way I can describe the manner of the average kibbutznik. I could take it from most, but I did use to wage a war of attrition with some of the teenage boys whom I refused to serve dinner to in the canteen until they said ‘please’. And also that it is perfectly possible for someone to have survived the Nazi occupation of France by pretending to be a son of a local catholic couple in the knowledge that the rest of their family has died in concentration camps and still end up an old letch preying on innocent and trusting female English volunteers by the time they’re in their seventies; suffering being no guarantee of decency (although why I thought it somehow was, I don’t know).

But that was all in the heady, optimistic days of the mid nineties when peace accords were in place where both volunteers and kibbutzniks would work fields side by side with Palestinians who crossed over from Gaza each morning. Where nice, young English girls like me (although I ended up claiming to be Scottish, for reasons I don’t have the space to explain now) could drive tractors in those fields now more used to being a repository for the hand made rockets that have fallen short of the town of S’derot. Ah, S’derot – possibly the most boring place I’ve ever spent a Saturday night. Or at least it was then; now it’s just plain frightening, I would imagine.

At the time, it was my intention to avoid politics; being an International Relations graduate I was aware that I probably knew bugger all about it. And I’m quite proud of my achievement in doing just that. As you can tell, it was a great adventure for me and it created a fascination and a great fondness for the whole of the Levant. I donned my borrowed but very warm old Israeli army parker and travelled to the Sinai and across southern Jordan just weeks after the border has opened with Israel; I was very lucky.

I would not be so lucky now.

I did have hope that Tzipi Livni would provide a new, refreshing approach to peace talks. And indeed I still believe that she would given half a chance. But the difficulties in trying to pull together a coalition in have overcome her.

Truly, how can she sign up to Shas’s demands that negotiations with the Palestinians’ not make any reference to Jerusalem? No wonder, this calm and unruffled woman was driven to exasperation.

Disappointingly I read distaste of, and frankly, a cheap shot at PR systems in some of the commentators’ analysis. But, really? The situation that Israel now finds itself in cannot be laid at the door of PR. If they were to just change the voting system, then all would be alright then, would it? That Israel’s political parties are so fragmented and at the fringes are so entrenched in a lack of compromise is not as a result of PR but as a result of decades of failure of the mainstream parties and the international community to deliver.

Still it looks like she is a leaderwith metal and the Israelis have recognised this given that Kadima's poll ratings have gone up since she called theelection.

I have blogged before about the weakness of leadership in Ehud Olmert whom thought strength was to be found in bullying a neighbour. I also believe the international community has one rule for Israel when it comes to illegal wars and occupying territory that is not theirs and another rule for everyone else. I hesitate toreduce international relations in the Middle East to an analogy of family dynamics but if you let a country get away with breaking the rules for long enough they will assume that they don’t apply to them. There is then no incentive to actually behave within the general rule set out and therefore extreme behaviour succeeds where constraint and compromise doesn’t. And there you have it. There is no need to compromise and apply constraint because war and bullying neighbours has no censure.

On the other side, Palestinians’ have noticed that every time they comply and compromise their dreams move further away. There is no incentive for them to vote for constraint.

My general impression when I left Israel and the kibbutz was that it had the most enormous chip on it's shoulder. This is of course a generalisation and my memories of my time there are extremely fond and so it is not so much a criticism as a comment.

It is hard, given the history of the Jews in the 20th Century and centuries before not to comprehend how they might be so defensive and eager to attack before they are attacked out of existence. especially when there are like Ahmadinejad just a missile's range away.

But, we are all responsible for our own actions, no matter what has happened in the past. Likewise, Israel's politician, of whatever hue, have to start to compromise. To do this they need the help and support of the International community. Not just to validate or to turn a blind eye to the things that they do but to make it clear that they too wil have to stick to the rules.

Some have called Tzipi Livni Israel's Barack Obama, as she too used a narrative of change in her election as leader. Well, whether she is or she isn't, the election of the real Barack Obama to the US presidency could be the bestchance that the peace process has at the moment.

I am hopeful that if Obama becomes president he will pay more attention to the area and the scope for a negotiated peace than his predecessor Bush. In in the mean time I hope the Israeli voters punish at the polls those extreme parties like Shas that have once more put up barriers to peace.

Of course, Israel has a right to self defense! but, the abuse and aggression that Jews and Israelis have suffered from the Nazi regime, European countries and in later years their neighbours do not excuse Israel's actions with regard to the occupied territories and particularly the action of politicians who have very little support but who are prepared to hold the rest of the country to ransom.

Also, in my feminist utopia...

A man doing his share of housework or childcare will be entirely unremarkable and men who do this will not be considered particularly ‘wonderful’ and they won’t be considered as ‘helping’ their partner….they will just be being a normal human being doing the stuff that they’re responsible for. I will not be considered ‘lucky’ for living with a man who does his own share (and, gosh, even more ‘amazing’, doesn’t wait for me to ask him to).

Women will no longer talk about trying to ‘get’ men to ‘help’ with the kids.

Men who go part time or even give up work to look after their own children will not be considered peculiar or performing a great sacrifice.

Schools will not automatically ring the mother when a child is ill or needs to be picked up early.

I would like to thank Easily Confused for picking up with the ‘my feminist utopia’ theme and running with it. I told you, I had struck a chord…

This lack of surprise will not just be limited to the home but at social events where some communal chore needs to be done; in my feminist utopia there will be men, and even young unmarried men, who will take it upon themselves to be at the centre of the washing up and clearing up and not immediately go down the pub to ‘talk strategy’ once the quiz, talk or meeting has finished. It will be unremarkable, no one will remark on it because it will be entirely normal. There will still be the lazy people who go up the pub without helping to tidy up, but there will be a greater gender balance of those left behind to clear up after them.

Nobody will wonder in the case of women who want to do something extra like get elected to public office, who will look after the children. They will assume that they have a partner of at the very least the children have a father who looks after them when she’s busy and sometimes when she's not.

*big sigh*

Read these!! Please!!

I've pulled together a trio of excellent posts/articles to recommend to you.

Now, I don’t always agree with Polly Toynbee but she’s spot on here with her assertion that the delay on debating the various abortion amendments on the HFE Bill had more to do with keeping the DUP sweet than anything that the House of Lords could have done!

And a very interesting post (and comments) from Laurie Penney on Liberal Conspiracy. The current Labour’s crusade against sex workers is based on some very dodgy evidence. Links from the excellent commenter Susan Hammond – I started reading a very interesting article here in the office entitled ‘400,000 Swedish Perverts’. Then I realised it was 38 pages long and I had work to do; but if you have the time it’s a really interesting deconstruction of how permissive Swedish society is.

And then finally, this article in the Independent about how to live to 114. I’m glad to see my habit of being generally right is continuing; I’ve always been pretty confident that I will live to at least a hundred and not it looks like my positive and optimistic outlook on life will ensure that I do!!

It looks like identity politics is not going away

In The independent today, the Tories are using a consultancy called Pretty Little Head to help them attract more female voters. Well, it’s pretty brave for a start to actually build in irony to your own company name!! Although I’m pretty sure that many won’t get it!

But at least the Tories are trying something slightly less offensive to women than the Republicans – who thought that by just putting up a woman, any woman, even Sarah Palin, the 17 million women who voted for Hillary Clinton in the democratic primaries would switch their vote just like that.

No, gaining the female vote, if there is such a thing, is not just a matter of putting up female candidates. As I’ve mentioned before, being female is never just enough to get my vote, you have to do things that will benefit women as well.

So, back to the Pretty Little Head: well, having a quick look at their website, I’m not too offended. As a passionate sceptic of the concept of biological determinism and a strong believer in the power of nurture or socialisation (as it was called over 20 years ago when I took my ‘O’ level in sociology) I absolutely do not agree with their assertion that some of the differences between men and women are inherent gender (sic) differences. In fact, I am slightly worried that they don’t actually understand that gender, the social construct described by masculinity or femininity and sex, which is of course male or female, are different things.

I believe that the two socially constructed genders are different and that we are all socialised to a greater or lesser extent to conform to those genders. I think for some people it is easier than others. Those women of us who possess very strong, traditionally masculine behavioural traits (like logic, assertiveness, confidence) can find it very frustrating to have people make the assumption that they are not there just because we happen to have certain physical characteristics. Where as some men, who wouldn’t be able to recognise a logical argument if it came up and bashed them on the nose, only have to put on a suit to persuade people that there are in fact a very smart, stable and logical ‘businessman’.

Still although we all have masculine and feminine traits and very few of us manage to completely buck all our socialisation we get from our parents, our schools, our workplace, the telly etc, etc. Hence you get research like this that shows women know that society doesn’t like them asking for more and so they tend not to. And hence I’m still wearing impossibly high heels to work every day.

In addition, even if a majority of us do not naturally conform to these gender stereotypes, we are treated as if we do. We are stereotyped: blonde hair, must be ditzy: soft voice, must be meek; confident woman, must be a bitch. And because we are after all human beings the way we are treated impacts on the way we behave.

All of which means, that although I don’t agree with these two women that differences between men and women are rooted in biology, I do believe that men and women often respond to different things on the basis of how successful societal norms have been in determining acceptable behaviour. I think that because masculinity says the zero sum game is good and most politicians are men who have been socialised to think that masculinity is good, then we have an assumption that the zero sum game is the best; when instead, if we were to take a more feminine approach, perhaps we would not think that. And perhaps the world would be a better place for us all and not just those with established power and money.

Hence I think that any political party is well advised to look at how they can appeal to those with a more ‘feminine’ outlook and approach to life whether or not they happen to be male or female. Not just because it will probably attract new voters but because it will make the world a better place: for men as well as for women.

So, my guess is that identity politics is here to stay and we in the Lib Dems should ignore it at our peril. The fact that the Tories are looking at it already doesn’t automatically mean it’s a shallow idea.

Starting to look slightly less like Shirley Temple...

Well, I think so, at least!

This was my slot on SkyNews.Com on Friday night. I just loved the story about the CPR being best done to the beat of the Bee Gees staying alive!

A chord has been struck...

…with female bloggers from across the globe…if not my most read posting (I think that one might go to the one where I ask people to come and tell me about themselves in Who’s Who in the Lib Dems Online’) then one of my most networked posts. I was delighted to be picked up in the Feminist Carnival and on other blogs as women all over the world rail against the invasion of their own personal space that is routinely undertaken by millions of men everyday to millions of women.

Ever the practical person, I am wondering what we can actually do about this thing that winds so many women up. Well, I was thinking that perhaps along with the ‘don’t play your music too loud’, ‘don’t eat smelly food’ and ‘get up for pregnant ladies’ notices that are put up on tube trains and buses asking people to just be a bit more considerate, if they could have a little icon for men taking up all the room and other people’s space: a sort of ‘sit with your legs out front and don’t be so greedy’ reminder. I am only part joking, by the way.

Apart from that all we can do is have a collective rant, which though cathartic doesn’t really change anything.


For a few days, or maybe it has even been weeks, I've noticed that my side bar has been dropping to the bottom of my blog below all my posts. This is rubbish!! Does anybody know how I could possibly fix this?

Update: OK, it's miraculously back! Just a minute after posting!

I think it may have something to do with the formatting of my blog posts - particularly when I send them in by email....hmmmmm.

Any thoughts would be most welcome!


I'm on again tonight! Why, this is almost regular!

I will be taking Martin Stanford (and the Sky viewers, not just Martin, obviously) through some of the top stories on the web today.

My guess, this early in the morning that Joe the Plumber might make an appearance given there's over 5,000 web references to him already! Although, to be fair, it's not just an online story. Perhaps, RecessMonkey could do me a favour and spark off another tide of labour outrage? No, no Labour conference to raise your profile at? Shame!!

See, I don't just do it for the trip to the Make Up Department!!!!

The final selection meeting, he said, brought all the male judges to tears!!


“Michael Portillo, the former Tory minister who chaired the panel of judges, said their decision was "emotionally draining" because they initially split their votes between Adiga and one other on the shortlist of six. The final selection meeting, he said, brought all of the male judges to tears,”

in The Independent today.

And what were the female judges doing when all this angst was going on? And what was the other short listed book that at first split the votes of the panel?

Well, I’m happy enough with that! Although my favourite of the Booker Short list was Sea of Poppies ( a great review to be found here - I can’t be doing with reviewing as it requires too much thinking and I just like enjoying the things) I really enjoyed all 5 of the 6 short listed books that I have so far read.

There is a bit of a hoo-ha about a comment that one of this years judges, Louise Doughty made about the male academics on previous panels being more worried about what their choices say about them and their careers then actually picking a readable book.

I don’t approve of generalisations, but I have to say John Sutherland’s response in CIF is more or less incoherent. I haven’t read anything so badly written in a long time!

My view is this – unless it’s going to be an academic prize then I think the Man Booker should be about good quality, yes, but ultimately readable fiction. I am it seems, well read and have read many Booker Prize long listed, short listed and winning novels. I am definitively a reader of literary fiction and well, I know my stuff. Which is to say, I can tell a good book from a bad and a readable book from an exercise in watching an author disappear up their own backside – or perhaps an English Lit Professors backside, or other such contortions that I really don’t want to go into here.

But whilst readability is key to my enjoyment it has to be good quality. I do not read ‘blockbuster’ or ‘airport’ novels and on the few occasions that I was forced to read them (such as racing across the Atlantic on a yacht when we were limited to one book each and I had to read other people’s or just go mad with introspection!) I have found them largely lacking in any real characterisation and proper motivation and so, so, so predictable (or just random – on account of lack of characterisation and a no real though about motivation and a plot that might hang together).

Still, I’m not in any way, shape or form a literary critic – I can’t be bothered with it. I was dismayed when I was 16, as the wonderful, heartbreaking story Tess of the D’Urbervilles was clumsily hacked to death by having to study or critique it at A Level. And gosh, some of the books on previous shortlists have been dire. Often miserable, dense, too clever by half (it is no accident that my favourite of this years’ shortlist is fundamentally an optimistic book). They seemed to be written to be picked apart by literary critics and academics rather than read by non literary professionals. So I have much sympathy for Louise Doughty point of view, and view criticisms of this year’s shortlist as being mediocre as well, snobbery. Whether the guilty are male or not is not my issue. But given that those at the top of academia, as with many other rewarding vocations, tend to be disproportionately male, they lend themselves to such generalisations (and having a quick look at the gender of those previous judges with the prefix Professor, Louise may have a point). There lies another good reason for diversity: you can spread the blame!

In short, this years’ short listed books were fantastic! I have romped through them, only briefly diverted by Roy Jenkins biography of Asquith. If this is because a lack of male academics on the judging panel then I say: No more male academics on the Booker Prize Panel!

I have failed in my quest

I have almost certainly failed in my quest to read all of the Booker Shortlist by the time they announce the winner tomorrow night.

Or at least, I might be able to finish them, if I decided to stop work at my clients and take the rest of the afternoon off..and tomorrow. If I don’t go to a PCA Briefing and the PCA Reception at the National Liberal Club with Nick Clegg this evening. If in addition, I didn’t undertake the short listing of applications for a Deputy Headship that I need to do as a Governor of a primary school, or not complete the Communications Grid for the Bromley Community Engagement Forum that as Chair of the Communications Working Group I need to put in place and definitely not attend a meeting to plan our Bromley Youth Conference or attend another meeting to agree the process for the assessment centre of our new Deputy Head.

OK, so it’s a particularly busy 48 hours; still, If I just stopped and didn’t do any of it then I might just be able to squeeze in finishing the very, very amusing ‘A Fraction of the Whole’ by Steve Toltz that I am currently reading and blast my way through Philip Hensher’s Booker offering, which I am still to actually purchase if truth be told.

I’m a very speedy reader, you see. So if I just stopped everything else and read for a day and a half I’d be able to do it. Or would I? Because frankly, the Steve Totlz book is very funny and often profound and I have developed the, no doubt, highly irritating habit of reading out large chunks to my partner. It is a ‘laugh out loud book’ and I am not generally a laugh out loud kind of reader (apart from Jane Austen – she can make me laugh out loud).

I feel guilty that I haven’t got around to Philip Hensher though…I will, I promise after this one. But by then I will know whether I am reading a winner or just a short listed.

So, all in all, it’s been a very interesting and pleasant failure. The short list was really, really good this year and the judges have done an excellent job. My favourite so far is still Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh but it really has been a very hard choice and I have enjoyed every one of the books. There is more to this attempt to reading the whole shortlist than just being a literary pseud, honest!

Sexism at Work: It's just below the surface...

“I was performing extremely well in my firm and as a result took on the functions of a Director. However, I was told I had to ‘prove myself’ before the directorship was formalised and a pay rise given. There was no justifiable reason for this; I had outperformed all colleagues in my department. Shortly afterwards another Director was appointed (formally) on over double my salary without a requirement to ‘prove himself’. To this day I am paid substantially less than all male Directors at my firm.”
So says Emma, a City Worker in response to calls for evidence of Sexism in the City, the excellent Fawcett Society’s new campaign.

I worked in the City for much of my career and as I have mentioned in posts before, sexism is rife. It is as they say in the new campaign..just below the surface. But it’s also pretty prevalent in legal firms, in FMCG firms and other industries that I have worked in. I know that I have at times earnt less than male colleagues and I have lost out on jobs because I am a woman in her mid thirties who is deemed bound to have children at some point in the next couple of years.

Whenever I challenge the day to day low level sexism that exist in my current client’s office: from a group of men scoring the various women in other departments out of 10 based on their relative fuckability to the request of the MD to get more good looking women from the company at an industry function dinner to ‘entertain’ clients to the use of the word ‘woman’ as a synonym for the word ‘crap’, then I am made to feel like a killjoy and unable to take a joke.

It is not harmless fun. It impacts on women’s pay packets (and therefore on the number of children in poverty) and it impacts on women’s ability to follow their careers and dreams. Sexism like I’ve related above also sanitises more sinister occurrences; where, for example, men in positions of power are able to abuse women emotionally and sexually. Even if they don’t get their way, women are often too fearful of the consequences of whistle blowing, on their own career and reputation to do anything other than move on and keep quiet: after all, who wants to highlight how they can become a victim a sexual predator?

Whether you are a woman and or you have friends or partners who are women or are concerned for your sisters or daughters, the fact that sexism at work lurks so close to the surface should be of concern to us all. It doesn’t just happen in some mythical other place or society, it is happening all around us here in the UK in the 21st century.

So please, can I encourage you to pop along to the Sexism at Work website down load a poster to put up in your office or send an eCard to a friend. Sexism shouldn’t just be something that is always going to be there, we can get rid of it but only if we admit it’s there in the first place!

Oh right, because I was going be able to ignore a book meme...pah!

Confirming that one of the key issues with me and a career in politics is that I’m all hinterland.

Apparently, and only ‘apparently’ because I cannot access live journal blogs from this PC and the battery on my iPhone is running so low that I daren’t use it to surf the interweb there is a new book meme going about.

First you pick a genre and then 5 books from that genre and then you tell people why they should read them.

My genre is Indian Literature.

India is my second favourite country in the world (bearing in mind I haven’t been to New Zealand, which I am told is the BEST country in the world; although judging by the pen I picked up this morning that is because they have exported all their pen chewers to south east London).

But Indian Literature is probably my favourite genre. It is rich, luscious and sensual and I love it. I could have given your 10 or 20 favourite novels but the meme said five so five is what you’re going to get! So, here we go:

The God of Small Things by Arundati Roy

I often cry whilst watching movies and TV (I’m a very willing suspender of disbelief) but rarely when I’m reading a book. This one made me cry; if fact just thinking about it now I get a little pain just above my stomach. I cannot for the life of me remember if I read it before or after my first trip to Kerala but just as Kerala has a misty, green, dewdrop kind of beauty so does this book.

Animal’s People by Indra Sinha

This was Shortlisted for last years Booker prize and was definitely my favourite of the shortlist. This is a book set in a fictional city that is basically Bhopal and deals with the long, long aftermath of the chemical leak and the cynicism of politicians and corporate bosses. However, it is a very human story of a young man disfigured by the leak and his coming to terms with himself. What I like most is the very individual voice of this young man who is the narrator of the whole story. Brilliant!

The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru

This is a fast paced, fantastical romp and really rather rude at times (what am I talking about ? Most of the time!). But I liked it! It is funny and sad and I’m not sure I actually like the impressionist that much but hey, its’ good fun. It was the first of Hari Kunzru’s novels and it made me look out for his next one. He! He!

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

On the shortlist of this years Booker Prize it is my favourite so far this year (and so far I’ve read 4 of the 6 shortlisted books); at least I think it is – they’re all so good I find it difficult to choose. Ghosh is one of my favourite novelists. He tells a really good story and sets them in eastern india around the Bay of Bengal always in interesting histirical settings (and I just can’t wait for the next two instalments of this trilogy – I’m just sorry it’s only a trilogy and not a 7 or 8 book series) and his characters are well rounded and he particularly does well rounded female characters. This one’s interesting historical setting is the lead up to the Opium Wars and the impact that Opium farming had on eastern India. I’m hoping that it’s going to win the Booker Prize this year but then what do I know? Last year the only book I actually didn’t like on the shortlist won!

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

Very long but very epic this pulls you into an old, old country but also one that is hurtling towards modernity. This book reveals much of what I personally love about India and why it is my second favourite country in the whole wide world. He has created a whole world here and it is as big as the real India!

As I said, I have put only a fraction of the books that I would like to tell you about in this genre – and if I were to do it agin in a few days time I might very well choose 5 different books. Enjoy!!

Today, my feminist utopia will include...

…or actually, will not include that annoying habit that many men on public transport have, of sitting there with their legs wide open whilst they listen to their iPod or read a newspaper so that anybody (usually a woman) sitting next to them has only a corner of a seat to sit on.

I see it happening everyday to some poor woman and this morning it happened to me for the 9 millionth time, as well as the woman sitting diagonally opposite me. You know, women don’t get a fair share of hearing in business or in politics, we earn less for work of the same value and, AND WE DON’T EVEN GET THE SAME AMOUNT OF SPACE ON A TRAIN!!!

The guy who had laid claim to the majority of my seat on the train today was perfectly capable of talking up less room but he didn’t bother until the train got so packed that he had to slightly shift his legs closer together. So, he could have done it all along but he chose not to, despite my rather unsubtle attempts to get him to shift back into his own side of the seat.

The other thing that will happen in my feminist utopia is that when an acquainted man or woman meet, the conversation will not, 8 times out of 10, be one of those one sided ones where the woman asks lots of questions and the man just sits there answering them without a thought of actually finding anything out anything about the woman he’s speaking to. Like I again heard this morning, on the train.

You might hazard a guess that I forgot to put my book in my briefcase this morning (the very excellent Booker short listed The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, since you ask) and therefore was unable to escape the general daily ordure that is commuting into London Bridge from south east London.

I may think of some other things for my feminist utopia at some other point. They are of course, not the big ticket items (equal pay, reduction in domestic and sxual violence, a real voice in politics) but rather the symptoms of the lack of equality whether financial, political or just plain cultural that we women have to put up with and that many men may not even notice happens. And yes, it’s not as bad, in fact it’s incomparably good when compared to as women’s lives in Somalia or Darfur or many, many other places but still: how hard is it for men to not be so rude and selfish, and just sit with their legs out in front, in this really rather pleasant and comfortable country that we live in? Is it really so hard?

You know, I really think I’ve failed to express how much I hate men who sit there with their legs wide open, taking up all the room on public transport. I shall try antoher way: .Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!! GRRRRRRR!!

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