Showing posts with label Feminism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Feminism. Show all posts

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*

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.

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!!

This is why I am a feminist

This is why I am a feminist and why I am going to keep going, even when it feels like we are wading through treacle.

Why we need women to be in power...


…and working in journalism*, and the police, the army and the courts and more or less anywhere. And I mean In positions of power not just support.

This is an excellent article by Linda Grant on Comment is Free.

She is talking about her work in investigating claims of mass rape in Bosnia during the Balkans Conflict. She identifies it was the first time that rape was generally recognised as a weapon of war at the same time that the war was going on and that it was women being involved that made that happen: She says:

“What was different in Croatia and Bosnia was that this was the first war that had been monitored by women's organisations, which received reports and collected data.

It was also, perhaps, the first war in which women were, in increasingly large numbers, gaining high profile positions in journalism. After the piece came out, I was contacted by Veronica Waddley, then features editor of the Telegraph (now editor of the Evening Standard)”

I know that many people say that it doesn’t matter what gender or race a person is, they can still represent all humanity. And in theory, I agree. I wouldn’t like to think that I would discriminate in my compassion for others, on the basis or their gender or race.

However, I note that in practice, that it just doesn’t work like that; it has needed women getting into positions of power to start recognising that rape is used as a weapon of war. It did take the increases (however paltry) to the number women in parliament in 1997 to bring in some of the flexible working, maternity and childcare legislation and provision over the last 11 years.

So, although in theory it doesn’t matter what groups are in power and what their gender is, in practice is seems to. This is why diversity is so important. Diversity is important, to have not just a woman’s experience but both men and women’s experience when making decisions on things.

To me this is so important that I am not prepared to wait until there is equality ‘naturally’. I don’t think that will ever happen; we need to rebalance it in women’s favour.

I appreciate, some men out there may not feel particularly advantaged: there are always those who have the merit of being the right colour, the right class, having the right amount of money and having gone to school with the right people. However, as can be shown through the numbers, the biggest advantage there is in politics, in business, in anywhere where power exists, is to be male.

And I can’t see how this is going to change, given the stagnation that has happened in the numbers of women being elected into parliament without some form of quotas. In the Liberal Democrats we do in fact have gender quotas for most bodies, from the FE & FPC, to selection committees, shortlists to PR election lists; why do we refuse to bring them in for the most vital, the most likely to effect positive change for millions of women? Why do we not have them for winnable parliamentary seats? Why do we not have a good long look at how we define the various roles in the party, especially those of PPC and agent to make them fit women’s lives more easily instead of insisting that women’s lives fit them?

In the Labour party they do use All Women Shortlists (AWS) and their women’s organisations have real strength within the party, are taken seriously and listened to by both men and women.

It always makes me very sad to see how few men turn up to the usually very interesting fringes that Women Liberal Democrats put on; we’re supposed to believe that they are able to represent all our experiences but they don’t both to do the most simple things to find out what they are.

Even in the Tory Party, Cameron at least goes on Woman’s Hour and sounds like he wants women to join and take part. I listened to the Women’s House podcast when he was on a few months ago – I tell you, he was very compelling! When are our leaders going to be going on Women’s Hour asking for the listeners to get involved?

Nick Clegg has said that if we don’t sort it out within two parliaments then we are going to have to look at AWS again. Well, from the data that the Electoral Reform Society has come up with that’s not going to happen in the next parliament so that only leaves one more. Why wait for the inevitable? Why wait another parliament of nothing changing when bringing forward change would make a real difference for millions of women’s lives? Why should all that be sacrificed for the sake of the ambitions of 30 odd male approved candidates? I know that the sacrifice of the individual for the group does not fit with our liberal values but I think we are cutting off our nose to spite our face if we don’t do this. I truly believe that more diversity will lead to better lives for all.

I’m very interested to see what the newly incepted Speakers Conference comes up with; I do hope it is going to deliver real action and not just wishful thinking! I’m also looking forward to hearing a bit more about what the Bones Commission in the Lib Dems has to say about sorting this problem out. I’m kind of hoping that it will and that will explain why Nick has been so quiet on this topic over the last 7 months.

*How many lobby correspondents are women, by the way…have you counted recently? Quite a few national newspapers don’t have any women reporting from the press gallery. I went to a press gallery lunch the other week that Nick spoke at and I’m trying very hard to remember but I don’t think there were any questions by women and was told that most of the women in the room were not in fact journalists but invited as the guests of journalists (as I was). So a lot of men asking other men questions about things that interest men.


A plea for more women

to stand for Federal Party Committees.

Along with various other things, this note came through the post from the Women Liberal Democrats. I was rather taken with its to the point and concise argument. so, I have TYPED IT OUT(!!!) below. And added some links so that you can easily see what they're on about.

The number of women seeking election to the Federal Policy and Federal Executive committees has declined in the recent past. As a result the responsibility of ensuring that a female viewpoint is expressed falls very heavily on just a few women. Is this fair? The women who get elected do a great job, but they really can't be expected to cover everything. The Party constitution provides for a quota of elected women on the committees - if sufficient numbers of women are nominated. In addtion to the members who are elected by conference representatives there are also nominated members on all Federal Committees. The maority of these nominated members are men, which means that the committees always have a predominately male perspective reflected in the decisions they make.

The elections are held every two years and 2008 is such a year.

Will you stand, or find another woman to stand?

You don't have to be an expert.

The year starts Janaury 1st. The committees meet several times a year and the period of election is two years.

Members also have the opportunity to participate in Working Groups on particular policy issues.

The list of members for these committees can be viewed on the party website, please take a look, see how few women are really at the heart of the decision making process of the Liberal Democrats'
From my calculations, only 21% of the Federal Executive are female and 22.3% on the Federal Policy Committee are female. The commonly held view is that it takes at least 30% of any group to be female before any change in culture takes place.

Women make up 40% of all liberal Democrat members.

The Federal Finance & Administration committee is better with 25% of it's membership as women but really this committee is key - if you want to know where the power lies, then yo have to look to who has control over the money. It is clear that in the Lib Dems, it is men who have control over the moeny.

The Federal Conference committee does best of all, with 33% of the memeberhip female, which when you take out the non-voting members of the committee rises to 40%. Which is exactly in line with the propotion of Liberal Democrats that are women...hooray!

Now, I would say, that if you have decided that being a PPC is not for you on account of wanting some sort of life over the next 1o or 12 years, then this might be an alternative, that is slightly more sustainable.

After all, this is where all the money is held...money like the Rowntree Fun that was given to us to help increase our diversity in terms of sex and colour!

It'll also be an interesting couple of years as the Bones Commission is implemented.

So, I would encourage all women to stand for these elections. I'm going to!!

Well done WLD for bringing it to our attention!

Sexism in the City

This Tuesday the Fawcett Society will be launching their campaign Sexism in the City.

I’ve worked the majority of my working life for Financial Services firms (although not in wholesale or investment banking which I understand are the worst) and most of that has been in the square mile; I can confirm that there is quite a lot of sexism going on.

Sexist ‘events’ or comments or whatever you want to call them happen on a daily basis and I couldn’t tell you if it was getting worse or better. My most recent ‘favourite’ was a couple of weeks ago when I was leading a rather dry but rather complex business requirements workshop. I run a pretty tight ship on these things, especially when there are people on the other end of a phone line as it’s very easy to get bogged down and go off on tangents.

This one guy, oh, probably in his early thirties, already referred to by one of his co-workers as a bit of a loose cannon was constantly talking over other people and several times I had to stop him and ask him to wait a second so that others could finish what they were saying. After about the third time that I had to ask him he announced to the rest of the meeting that he was very glad he wasn’t married to me!

I have to say I was wrong footed by this and it took me a good few seconds to believe that he had just said what he has said in the middle of a work meeting. I am glad to say that the rest of our colleagues looked pretty embarrassed by what he had said and just wanted to move on. Which we did.

Can this man not imagine any role for a woman but to be a potential wife and so feels the need to announce it loudly when someone doesn’t fit the bill?

So, there you go, in one move he attempts to undermine me as a professional in a hope to reduce me to the role of a wife and lets face it not a very nice wife at that…a bossy wife, who doesn’t just let the man ramble on. Of course, a real man like him would never have anything to do with a harpy like me.

And if you think I’m over reacting to how this man reacted to being asked by me to wait until someone else had finished their sentence I wonder if he would have said the same thing to a man? No, of course he wouldn’t.

It was quite an unpleasant thing to say, it was quite spiteful and frankly aggressive but worst of all it was sexist.

Of course, I’m a tough old nut I don’t let something like that get me down, do I? I see it and him for what he is but I wonder what effect it would have had on me had I been younger or slightly more sensitive.

And it is just one more example about how women are objectified in the City. Being a liberal then if my male clients or co-workers want to go and have lap dancers titillate them of an evening that that’s their prerogative. But I have to say it’s a close run thing, as I’m not convinced that it doesn’t do any harm to women. I wonder if they find it so easy to purchase sexual titillation and see women only as something to buy how they manage to switch the next morning into treating the women they work with as equal professionals. Surely, the lines between female colleague and sexual object must blur?

I have no desire to work in an environment devoid of humour or humanity but I do want to work in an environment where my abilities, skills, experience and excellent delivery is undermined by some men’s view of women.

I don’t mind what people get up to in private as long as it is consensual but I am getting increasingly worried by the objectification of women in the media, on the internet, in drinking clubs and (most of all) on billboards around London; basically in public. I think it sends out the wrong message to both girls and boys and I think we are a poorer society for it. And I’m pretty sure that it impacts how seriously I am taken in my professional life, by some people, because I am a woman and that really, really winds me up.

The Carnival of Feminists

The 55th Carnival of Feminists is up on Penny Red right now (time seems to run faster over there), with my posting from yesterday on domestic violence as part of the carnival.

For those of you who dismiss feminism as man bashing then have a read of this blog, from the carnival.

Calling all men who don't like violence

Saturday was International Women’s Day. I didn’t get any flowers, or a cup of tea in bed or anything like that. Am I not an international woman?

And I didn’t even get to go to the Million Women Rise March in London because I went up to the Liberal Democrat Conference for the weekend. I did though comfort myself with the Women Liberal Democrats (WLD) fringe session in celebration of the day. I would like to thank Cllr Bobbie Chettleburgh for bringing up the issue of domestic violence in the UK in the session; I had been preparing this blog on rape and domestic violence for some days and it was good to know that I wasn’t the only person up there getting more and more concerned.

Although I didn’t make it to the march this Saturday, I did go, with my Mum, on the Reclaim the Night march last November. My favourite slogan was:

“Whatever I wear, wherever I go
Yes means yes and no means no”

Which in a country, like ours, where the conviction rate for rapes hangs around the 5.7% mark is something that clearly needs repeating; and I did, very loudly, all the way up Charing Cross Road that Saturday night!!

5.7% It’s an appalling statistic, isn’t it? And a statistic that the police know that they’ve got to improve on, as much of the problem is as a result of victims dropping out of the process:

“research shows that attrition - or cases dropping out - happens at every stage from initial complaint to trial. But Yates said the biggest attrition rate was with the initial police investigation. If inertia followed a complaint, "what was always going to be a difficult case can often become an impossible one"

By the time the police have got involved, it’s already too late, the crime has been committed. Our aim should be to stop the crimes in the first place.

All types of violence against women, not just sexual, is very, very common. One in four women will experience some kind of domestic violence during their life time. (I realise domestic violence is a far wider category than rape, but stick with me for the moment).

And if that many women experience domestic violence it means that there are a lot of men out there being violent towards women.

So, how many? Well, I don’t know and nor does anybody else, because it’s not the kind of thing we talk about in polite company. But what if it was, for example, a 3:1 ratio to account for say more than one woman being subject to violence from the same man or the few women who receive violence at the hand of another woman? That’s still millions of men and that really is shocking. I can hardly believe that number myself and I don’t find domestic violence hard to imagine at all; I know women who have experienced domestic violence and I’ve witnessed it. Yes, me the epitome of middle class, female professional!

Violence towards women is one of life’s great levelers; in both victims and perpetrators it crosses class, income group, educational attainment, colour, nationality, race, religion, political views, language and age.

And it makes me wonder, how many people have to be doing something before it becomes a cultural norm?

It’s not a new fangled thing, sweeping the nation like bird flu could. I think it has always been ‘acceptable’ to be violent towards women, behind closed doors.

I think the situation may even be improving, it’s hard to know. What is good is that the police now take it more seriously and don’t stand there like a bunch of lemons, as they used to in the seventies, in people’s driveways refusing to come across the threshold because ‘it’s a domestic’ and therefore none of their business.

Improving it may be but it’s not gone. Making something illegal doesn’t change whether it’s culturally acceptable. Proactive prosecution of the crime, when it comes to light is definitely a start but we need more than just the law.

Silence about something, not mentioning it, like we don’t mention the prevalence of domestic violence, is tantamount to being complicit.

And this is, of course, where the solution lies. Last year, I blogged about the White Ribbon Campaign. I was very excited because this is a campaign by men to stop male violence against women. Domestic violence is too often treated like a women’s issue. But it’s not a women’s issue, it’s a man’s issue. And whilst men are the problem they are also the solution.

The White Ribbon Campaign aims to get men to create the new cultural norm that it’s not acceptable to be violent towards women. It works by getting men talking about it and promoting that there is nothing masculine about hitting women.

You know, I am pretty sure, that me blogging about the fact that it’s wrong to hit women isn’t really going to have any impact on a man’s behavior, if he is that way inclined. He probably already knows that women don’t like it; but if he overhears, perhaps at the pub or in the office, another man start talking about how unacceptable it is, how unmanly it is, then that might just make a difference.

So back to the issue with rape.

I was interested to read on PC Bloggs how many of the commenters on a recent post about rape were concerned about the inability to work out what has happened if the woman is say, drunk or not. But this I think is missing the point and ignoring what consent is.

Positive consent is not the absence of dissent. It should be very clear to a man when a women is consenting to sex, there should be no mistake. If a man waits for a woman to give positive consent to sex then he is not in danger of raping her. There should be no waiting for a woman to say no. If she can’t say no, because she’s too drunk, then she can’t say yes, can she? A woman who is playing hard to get is not giving positive consent.

As the chant goes, it doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing only yes means yes and no most definitely means no.

Again, the solution is in changing the norms of behavior or in other words the prevalent culture that finds an absence of dissent a case for assuming there was consent. It is men who need to be demand positive consent from their sexual partners and not go forward without it, not women who need to be clearer. It is men who are the solution.

So, to all you guys who have read as far as this, I say: Please, don’t think because you would never dream of being violent towards another person or not getting anything less than positive consent that you have no part to play in changing these pernicious norms of society. Even though you may not be aware, it is likely you will know women who have experienced domestic violence and probably the men who have perpetrated it.

I am looking at those men, who know that violence is wrong and who understand what positive consent means, to help spread the word to all men what is and isn’t acceptable.

If you want to find out how then join the White Ribbon Campaign and pass it on.

Blimey! Quotas for Board Directors!

Or: is Norway just a very good country to be a woman in?

This article from Guardian Unlimited caught my eye, unsurprisingly this morning! It looks at a new law brought out in Norway, which states that 40% of a company’s directors must be female; yes, my eyes nearly popped out of my sockets too! Apparently all but 12 companies have done it!!

There is a strong economic case for diversity in business and Norway at least recognises that ‘lack of experience’ (read: lack of supply) is not the only reason why in 2002 only 7.1% of board directors were female.

Are quotas the answer for us in the UK? Well, I suspect not. We have yet to recognise the benefits that diversity brings and we just don’t have the same culture of action in favour women’s equality that they have in Scandinavia. Although, its fair to say, that the debate in Norway’s was framed in terms of economic necessity rather than gender equality but I don’t see much evidence of even that level of sophistication in the diversity debate, if there is one, in the UK.

However, one comment by Marit Hoel, a Norwegian sociologist and the Director of the Centre for Corporate Diversity, made me smile as it reflect some of my own impatience with women’s position in business but also in terms of their representation in politics. She says:

"I would have preferred the quota to be voluntary - but that would have meant waiting another 35 years”.

Yes, 35 years, I’ll be 71 and hopefully settling down to lots of book reading and pottering, although with less money and pensions than my current male equivalents, of course.

Often when I am voicing my frustration at the slow progress being made in increasing the number of women in positions of power in politics, let alone in parliament I am told (most often it has to be said by men who are somewhat younger than me) to be patient as it’s all going in the right direction.

Well, it’s not going in the right direction for a start, we have 2 less female MPs now than we had after the 2005 general election and female membership of boards is at a 9 year low.

And as for being patient, it will take 200 years before there is equality in the UK parliament. I think it’s fair to say, even with medical advancement as it is, I’ll be long gone before then; so will hundreds of other skilled and talented women, already around, but sadly missing from the green and red benches. So telling me to be patient, that things are progressing OK, is a bit like telling me to give up and forget it.

Too pretty to manage?

Here’s a dilemma for somebody as vain as me!

Or perhaps I’m just falling prey to 36 years of socialisation that tells me that the most important thing a woman must be is attractive ? And if you don’t think such socialisation exists then may I just point you to the furore over Hillary Clinton’s ankles!

From the well respected New York Times columnist, Nicholas D Kristof comes an op-ed piece entitled When Women Rule. It’s an interesting article suggesting the proportionately women monarch’s have done a far better job of ruling than men and that democracy just allows for the imposition of prejudices, where, however well they do or don’t rule they are perceived as being worse than men. All well and good and just my sort of reading material. But here is the paragraph that caught my eye and then led to a good 90 seconds of panic!

Clothing and appearance generally matter more for women than for men, research shows. Surprisingly, several studies have found that it’s actually a disadvantage for a woman to be physically attractive when applying for a managerial job. Beautiful applicants received lower ratings, apparently because they were subconsciously pegged as stereotypically female and therefore unsuited for a job as a boss”.

So there I am reading away, musing on the, for the time being at least, hypothetical prejudice that I may or may not receive when I rule the world when I am brought right back down to earth in a manner not seen since the special effects on Life on Mars (or something similar) by the realisation that he’s talking about me, as I am, in fact, a manager, a serial manager, a serial senior manager and have been a boss for an increasing number of men and women!

Aaargh…..this means…wait for it….that I cannot be that attractive…(breathing now into a paper bag) because, because…..aaargh!

And there you go! I’ve fallen for it! Even as I try so hard to out on equality for women and feminism , my socialised brain is still trying to conform to society’s norms!

Let me tell you, there’s a rock over there a hard place over here in this world of the feminine feminist!!! Anyway, I have since convinced myself that it doesn’t apply to me because 1) senior though I am, there are a few more rungs of the corporate ladder above me (where all the unattractive women are, of course!!) and 2) I’m self employed, have effectively got off the corporate ladder and all the rubbish and prejudice that goes with it!!

The photographer who took my picture at the top of my blog remarked at one point that I was rather like a younger, blonder Delia Smith. Let me tell you, I was not impressed; it’s a miracle I smiled again that day! Vanity is a terrible cross to bear!!

I suppose if I ever did get to be an MP, it would be a double edged achievement.

Is it really only 80 years?

As Ros and Jennie have already noted, it is 90 years ago today that women got the vote. 80 years since they got the vote on the same terms as men and 50 years since they were allowed to enter the House of Lords.

And, although all is technically equal on the legal front, we are still having to loosen, finger by finger, the grip that men have on power and money. We have just 19% of our MPs female, even less running our top companies and the pay gap, well, it's still the pay gap and interestingly (or if you're me, bloody annoyingly) gets wider the higher up the career ladder women go! I reckon, that we're about 20% down the road to equality; you know, real equality, in how we live our lives, as opposed to equality in the eyes of the law.

Women's unpaid labour is still not included in national accounts, with all the implications for public policy that that entails, rape conviction as a proportion of reported rapes is frightenly low and I don't seem to be able to walk down the road or get on a bus without having a highly sexualised image of a women presented to me at every opportunity. My favourite one to hate at the moment is one advertising a programme called 'Skins'; I really enjoy having to look at that at the bustop surrounded by primary school kids.

There's an excellent article in the Guardian about it where Katherine Rake, the Director of The Fawcett Society.

It's a wide ranging interview looking back, as well as forward, but for me she really hits the nail on the head for me when she says:

"We are only half way through the revolution: there has been a huge change in women's lives but very little in men's. We have got to look at what happens in men's lives in future, in terms of a fairer division of labour and getting the benefits and costs of that."

Such completion of the revolution means wading into the private sphere to challenge the very way most of us live our lives, but Rake remains unapologetic. "There has to be a day that happens. This is very much a part of [Fawcett's] heritage. Unless you talk about changing the rules, about social transformation, the fundamental rules don't change and you are not going to be offering equality for women.

"We have done as much as we can levering women into a system designed by men for men. Now we have to work for a society where the rules are fitted for everybody."

Don't worry! I too, the good liberal that I am, get nervous when people talk about wading into the private sphere, but she has got a point.

To be honest, I think this is what we've been trying to do in the Lib Dems for too long; we have been focussing on getting women to change and to go on all sorts of training so we can play the selection game the same way the guys do.

When we get our heads around the fact that diversity is not about looking different on the outside but, in fact, about doing things differently and that it's possible to believe in liberalism but approach the practice of politics differently, we will start to make some progress on diversity.

And changing the way we do things (the rules) means everyone, including men and I think that will make politics and liberal democrat politics, in particular, better for all of us, not just women! Hooray!

Campaign for Gender Balance Blog Awards & James' Meme

James very kindly asked me to complete his meme just before the Christmas Holidays; I'm back, so here is my answer, now updated with favourite non Lib Dem female bloggers!!!

Favourite Blogs:

Urgh…there’s just too many that I like. But here’s my three!

Charlotte Gore: I am deeply interested in her chosen topic of political narrative and love the fact that she blogs to engage in good natured discussion and not just to bark her opinions at the world; quite a skill! She has excellent insight and judgment and isn’t scared to leap from the logical to the intuitive and back again!

Blunt & Disorderly: A bit intermittent with the posts but I really like the fact that she’s clear that feminism isn’t a dirty word and she blogs on some really interesting topics which are not picked up elsewhere on the Lib Dem blogosphere. She’s tipped me off on some very interesting articles which have got me thinking and blogging and for that I am very grateful.

Lynne Featherstone: We share an interest in home affairs and the horrors of the DNA database but one thing I’ve always enjoyed about Lynne’s blog is how it demystifies the process of being an MP and is a great role model to women thinking that formal politics isn’t for women!

Best Blog Posting:

Jo Anglezarke
with this for understanding that to open a debate rather than giving a lecture makes the blogosphere such a great place to be!

Alix Mortimer, has many, many good posts to choose from but this one was a particularly fun and imaginative!! But then, maybe I am just really boring too……

Linda Jack has many postings of this type and I am glad that she keeps banging on about it.

Favourite non lib Dem Female Bloggers

Pandemian, Dulwich Mum (just how tongue in cheek, I don't know...I suspect not at all!!) and of course, Philobiblon, who write about all sorts of interesting things and is also the founder of the Carnival of Feminists (which is a feminst equivilant of Britblog Round Up) and is fantastic, but not technically a blog so can't be nominated.

Women I’d like to see blog but don’t:

My good friend Lindsey Brummitt, because she’s smart and witty but doesn’t believe me when I tell her!

If Mariella Frostrup has a blog then I’m unaware of it but I really enjoy her insights on Openbook.

I’m not sure if this is allowed but I would have loved it is Linda Smith would have written a fantastic blog! And she was a humanist!

I will update with non Lib Dem female bloggers that I like…there’s far, far too many to choose from!

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