Anonymous · Inequality

‘The BBC pay-gap’ written by Anonymous

This week, I have been left absolutely astounded as the BBC have released their pay roll for their top earning stars and subsequently revealed their blatant gender inequality and highlighted the ever present gender pay gap.

Funded by the tax payer, I have always viewed the BBC as a company that could be trusted. We’ve been paying for news updates, radio and entertainment and our money must be being spent correctly? However, after being pressured to release the wages of their presenters and actors, it was revealed that of the top 10 highest earners, only two of them are women. When I first read this news I was amazed, surely a company as established and world renowned as the BBC couldn’t be so sexist? Yet, as you delve deeper into the numbers, the pay gap becomes even more prevalent.

The highest earner on the BBC’s pay roll is Chris Evans, making a staggering £2.5 million. Somehow, the first woman doesn’t appear until number 8 on the list, with Claudia Winkleman making only £500,000, 1/5 of Chris Evans’ salary. Granted, both presenters have very different roles within the BBC, however if you compare Alex Jones and Matt Baker, despite having identical jobs as hosts of ‘The One Show’, Baker manages to earn £50,000 more than Jones.

As a corporation funded by the public, the BBC should be setting an example in gender equality, rather than giving a man a higher wage simply because of gender. If we ever wish to live in a world in which every woman, in every job can be earning the exact same salary as her male counterpart, then we have to start at the top. The BBC are now in a powerful position in which they have the ability to portray a positive change. If in a years time they can reveal 2017’s pay roll, showing they have made changes to decrease the gender pay gap, then they can be used as an example to other companies, proving if they can, why can’t everyone. However, this is an idealistic and unlikely outcome. The BBC have taken a hit from the release and now they have appeased the public by releasing the data once, it’s unlikely they’ll take the risk to do it again, despite the positive steps they could take towards gender equality.

Harassment

‘The attitudes towards women in nightclubs’ by Katie Frost

The attitude towards women who defend themselves against the objectification of today’s society has yet again proved to be a disappointment. Recently, I was subject to harassment in a club unlike any I have experienced before.

Here is a little context:

Men grope. If you are going on a night out, particularly a girl’s night out, you have to be prepared for unwanted attention in an overcrowded club, as disgusting as this concept may be in the 21st century – hungry hands will usually find you.  This is what happened on ‘said’ occasion. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing a glare and a ‘leave me alone’ won’t solve.

The ‘star groper of the evening’ moved around my small circle of friends, putting his hands around waists, touching butts… and each of us, in turn, told him to go away. Once he had completed the circle, finishing his groping with me – I told him none of us were interested, and told him to move away from us. Unbelievably, he asked me to clarify, as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing (because he’s just such a catch with his hands all over my friends) so I repeated; and the ‘groper’ finally sulked off.

The night carried on.

A while later, he reappeared. Bumping into me with force, hands venturing “unconsciously”. The ‘look’ did not warn him off this time. After the third or fourth time of his launching his drunk self into my body, I had had enough. I turned around and pushed him away me. With this, he fell right on his arse… literally. My shock of having actually pushed a somewhat 23 year old bloke to the floor in my frustration of being touched and pushed about – shocked me… let alone the shock it brought him – along with the humiliation and anger.

He stood up and began to get aggressive, bee lining for anyone who happened to be standing in his way. My friends were holding him back, as he was trying to get to me. He was lashing out manically, and in his anger, he managed to get a hold of my friend’s top. She was desperately trying to get him off while completely freaking out and in the struggle he ended up ripping her top. Finally, three guys turned round to help, and they managed to pin him against the wall – but in the chaos, he’d grabbed my other friend and had her in some form of, what I can only describe, as a backwards headlock. Eventually, we managed to get him off her. Someone had to go and find security to defuse it all.

He was kicked out of the club. We were told he had a life long ban. However, when we explained to the bouncer that he had grabbed my friend by the neck, and showed him the developing marks – he said if we wanted to involve the police, then we would have to say quickly so they can take his name and details. In all the panic and shock of the situation, it didn’t click… to have to ban someone, you need their name at least surely? Let alone some details of who the person is. The bouncer did not even consider what had happened to be much of an issue… so yet again this guy got away with it! His next targets may not be as confrontational as my friends and I. Who knows what will happen to his next victims.

Here comes the pinnacle point of the event….

By this point, my friend with the ripped top was making her way to the Ladies, when some guy stopped her and said something along the lines of “you deserved that.”

Now. Excuse me?! How in god’s name, did we deserve that? Did any of us deserve it? We had simply stood up for ourselves after repeatedly being touched inappropriately. Not only did this one guy make this comment – but in the jam packed club, only three people stepped up to help. Three. It is not as if this “groper” was haphazardly being violent, he was raging with it! Even when I tried to thank the lads that helped, they looked at me with such disregard, almost a look of disgust as if I was the one in the wrong.  The whole attitude towards us that evening was just that of pure unimportance. As if we had caused the problem, and were more of a nuisance than anything else. Very few people came to defuse the situation and the bouncers did not seem overly concerned.

When telling a member of my family how I’d defended myself, I was told that I should have told the bouncers and let them deal with it… my instant response to that was “the bouncers don’t care.” If I had approached a bouncer and said, “that guy won’t stop touching me and bashing into me” the response I’d have most likely been faced with is, “move away from him.” Now, why should I have to be the one to move, when he was the one causing harassment?  Involving the bouncers did not even occur to me until he became a raging lunatic. I am perfectly capable of being able to tell unwanted hands to leave me the hell alone. I always have done, and I will continue to do so. Because I will experience it again and again and again, and it is not acceptable, nor should it be belittled.

This is how “rape culture” has become a thing, through belittlement. Harassment is so mundane in today’s society, nobody is shocked or surprised by it. Not bouncers, not club goers, not even me. Slowly but surely, we have begun to expect harassment. How has it become so acceptable for straying hands to explore our bodies without consent? How is that more acceptable than telling those hands to fuck off?

Speaking of telling harassers to fuck off… this same evening my friend asked me if I had just been tapping her butt as if it were a drum… (we are very close friends). I looked at her blankly – it wasn’t me. I pulled her towards me and we shuffled as best we could across the dance floor, not being able to get very far due to the popularity of the club. We carried on dancing – until I felt someone tapping on my butt as if it were a drum. I turned round and attempted to confront the guy. He would not even look at me in the face! He was just smiling, staring at the floor (with a slightly sheepish look, embarrassed that I didn’t fall at his godly knees with adoration for his masterful butt tapping) and completely ignoring me!

Nightclubs should be a place where people can relax and have fun. I always considered clubbing to be a rather beautiful thing despite the stigma surrounding club-goers. People crowd together to drink something that relaxes and provides them with confidence, they dance for hours focusing on nothing but what is in front of them.
That has been tainted now. When out, I’m on constant alert, watching out for friends, making sure nothing is slipped into my drink when I’m dancing, chatting, crossing the dance floor… Clubs are now uncomfortable places.

The attitude towards drunk, club-going women is that they are vulnerable and inviting. My parents are always telling me “don’t ever walk back by yourself” because I am deemed vulnerable, an easy target. My clothes are never suggesting and even if I do not happen to be wearing any at all – it still does not suggest anything.

I am not vulnerable. If you refuse to leave me alone after a fair warning, I will get annoyed.

I am not inviting. You keep your hands off me. My outfit is not an invitation.  We are not objects to be marvelled at, neither are we pets to be stroked. If people feel they will be unable to control themselves in a club environment. Then they should be the ones to stay at home. Women should be comfortable and confident in being able to go on a night out, without the constant fear and unease of unwanted attention. There are plenty ways to grab a girls attention. But grabbing her is NOT one of them.

Attitudes towards club-going women need to change drastically. Respect that women are out to have a good time, and do not want to be touched up all night. Being drunk is not an excuse to manhandle women.

Have respect. Do not belittle harassment. Do not put up with it.

Hattie Farley · poetry

‘The Roots’ by Hattie Farley

we are taught from a young age
that happiness can be found
once we have met the person
that we want to spend the rest of
our lives with.

we aren’t allowed to consider
even for a second that perhaps
happiness can be found
in the nights spent in
the corner of a bar with friends
or in those moments of solitude
when it’s just you and a car
and the open road.

i am learning that perhaps
i will never meet the person
who is the root
of my entire happiness.
but luckily for me
they are wrong.
i have found my happiness

in country songs, solitude,
friendships and feminism.
the world changing
and watching an entire city
build itself up from the ground
after an afternoon of terror.
i crave for sisters and
sunsets and music
because
they are the roots
of my entire happiness
more than one
singular human
could ever be.

Carly Miller · Female Representation · Social Media

‘Two Steps Forward, One Step Back’ by Carly Miller

Why are we still so hesitant to write about Feminism?

“Why aren’t people more excited to write about feminism?” I ask myself as I finish reading yet another text message with “Umm… Thanks, but I don’t really think I could write about that.” Or, “I’ll think about it.”

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I mean, why are we so afraid to sit down at our laptop, in the private of our own coffee shop (or home) and be honest with how much bullshit us women put up with on the daily basis?! I was so excited and my brain burst with stories and ideas of how to reach out and connect with people with my personal experiences with feminism, so I thought the people I reached out to would be on board without a blink of the eye. Turns out I was either left on ‘Read’, lightly let down, or simply ignored. I would understand if it wasn’t July 2017 and the entire world hadn’t just witnessed Hillary Clinton become victim to countless sexist comments and be ignored about her warnings of Prisident Cheeto Head.  However, that is almost, if not exactly what year it is and exactly what happened.

Us women have to stop giving so many shits about what men or other women think about women sticking up for feminism and promoting it. It drives me crazy that there seems to be a trend on Tumblr and Twitter about the “perfect feminist”. When Tumblr got the wind of feminism back around 2012 or so, I remember it was a very aggressive stance, almost shoving it down outsider’s* throats. I recall there was a certain feminist aesthetic that rolled around, short and brightly colored hair, the idea of not shaving facial hair, etc.

** meaning those who either didn’t have a Tumblr, or the side of Tumblr who didn’t care to post about feminism.

Having this sort of “idea” of what a feminist looks like, trickles back to my main theory of society being visual adapters to life and social changes. Thus, creating the “negative” notion against feminism in society’s eyes (which, let’s be clear, what closed minded people think) that feminists might be ugly, that they are oversensitive, and just need to “change their tampon”. Is this why five years later after feminism hit the internet, we still have such a struggle identifying with it? Because anyone and everyone should be able to identify with this social movement, us individuals don’t have an idea in our head to latch on to. Think about it, when I think of:

  1. Super model: Gigi Hadid, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington. Not myself, as I am 5’4 and a size 14.
  2. Actor and actresses: Andrew Scott, Emily Blunt, Gina Rodriguez, Kevin Spacey. Not any of my acquaintances who act in a local play for one weekend in the summer.

We can’t identify a sole feminist because any of us can be feminists (and should be). Feminism isn’t an aesthetic. It’s a mindset and a way of life, it is the radical notion that women and men are equal. Why are we so afraid to accept this? And why does social media still have the roots of glamorizing the lifestyle of relying on a man? I see it all the time throughout my timeline of users aspiring to get a sugar daddy, to get rich and to not worry about a thing in life. Yes, the idea of money and being financially comfortable is an amazing thought, to not have any debt and to live in a nice fancy house. But why wouldn’t you want to work for that yourself? Make your own money, and pay off your own debt. Why in the hell would anyone want to put their financial trust in a man? Twitter loves to argue how progressive and socially aware they are but are out here ready to, from some tweets, just quit school and marry rich.

Why are these groups of people so afraid to work hard and achieve their goals? Is it because everyone has taught women that by 22 you should probably have met your future husband, by 26 you should be getting married and by 30 you should have your kids (and that timeline is being generous, I know a girl who said she wanted to be married and have kids by 25). Why is it that all of us, at one point or another, have bought into this fairytale fantasy, and why are we so afraid that it won’t happen?

These are some of the thoughts I believe that are holding back the last few who don’t believe in feminism, or only certain bits of it. Some believe if you’re a feminist you can’t be a wife. That you can’t be a mother, or a housewife. Some of the Twitter users out there are afraid to speak up for their rights of their sex because they are afraid they will sound silly or stupid, or even crazier, that no one will find them “datable” because their points of view is too threatening for the average man. Us women need to stop acting like the damsel in distress to sway a man. Us women need to go after what we want and who we want, no matter what our hair, skin, nails or outfit looks like. We need to stop this bullshit of not looking like a feminist enough and start embracing the notion.

Hattie Farley · Intersectional Feminism

‘Let’s talk about the F-Word’ by Hattie Farley

“I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?” – Ellen Page

I have been asked, by both men and women, as to why the word ‘feminism’ is still used in this day and age. If feminism is for everyone, why include ‘fem’ in the title? Surely, if feminism does include fighting for the equality of not only women but also men, non-binary people, the LGBT community and POC then we should modernise the title to a more inclusive one? In 2015, Meryl Streep claimed that she did not associate with the word ‘feminist’ but instead stated: “I am a humanist, I am for a nice easy balance”.

So, the question is: should the word ‘feminism’ be updated? Should we start defining ourselves as ‘humanists’ and ‘equalists’ to avoid claims that the label ‘feminism’ no longer fits the list of people that it claims to help?

The thing is, by referring to ourselves as ‘feminists’ we are highlighting the social, political and economic disadvantages that women face every single day; this ranges from unwanted cat-calling in the street, FGM, the Bathroom Bill, to the gender pay-gap. Of course, we can claim that defining ourselves as ‘humanists’ and ‘equalists’ we are taking into account and fighting for the equality of everyone. However, the key to understanding why we refer to the word ‘feminism’ when referring to gender equality is to remember that feminism is all about addressing the current state of the world. In the current world we live in, women are the gender group who are heavily discriminated against. This includes the discrimination against WOC, transwomen, gay women and bisexual women.

As Vlogger Steve Shives claimed in a video in 2014:

“The reason why it’s called feminism while advocating for gender equality is because females are the gender that are the underprivileged, underserved gender…You attain gender equality by advocating for the rights of the underprivileged gender”

Despite popular belief, especially amongst the older generations, that feminism is all about women wanting to be better than men, it is actually about bringing women up to the same level as men. How is this possible, by using definitions such as ‘Equalism’ when we have not yet reached that target? This is not to say that men are not discriminated against or affected by the patriarchy. From a young age, society teaches men that they shouldn’t show emotion; that they should act ‘manly’; that they shouldn’t wear the colour pink; they shouldn’t play with dolls but with cars instead. Through my time at school, I watched as boys were labelled as ‘gay boys’ if they let their guard down for more than a second. Statistics show that this behaviour is incredibly damaging for men in later life. Men are statistically more likely to struggle with alcoholism as a coping mechanism rather than women.  Additionally, the 2017 Samaritans Suicide Statisics Report claimed that the highest suicide rate in the UK was for men, aged 40-44. If we want to smash the patriarchy and consequently, these problems and ideas, men must realise the importance and the impact of feminism. We need to stop cowering away from the word and use it as a sword, to smash and protect ourselves from that glass ceiling.

Essentially, it is not the WORD ‘feminism’ that is the problem, and none of us should be afraid to use it, whether you believe in ‘Equalism’ or ‘Humanism’ or not. The thing that both men and women need to continually focus on is making sure that the feminism itself is intersectional. We need to make sure that our feminism isn’t just the type of feminism that only impacts ourselves. In order to make sure that our feminism is progressive, we need to make sure that it includes fighting against the discrimination against race, class and sexual orientation.

Feminism is not a dirty word. Feminism does not mean burning bras, does not automatically make you a lesbian, does not mean you hate men and certainly does not mean you want to be better than men. Without the acceptance of the word and definition of the word ‘feminism’, equality is not, and will never be possible.