Tuesday, 8 March 2011

WhoseTurn is it to Clean the Loo? - International Women's Day

How I wish that this 'day' didn't have to exist, sadly it does and it needs to exist.

Women still earn in the regions of 17% less (full time work) and 36% (part time work), than their male counterparts for the same job descriptions. My union, 'Unison', regularly sends out reminders to "get your pay level checked".

Looking at our televisions, women are depicted as superfluous and fickle. Like male characters, this might be alright for mutual comic or near true-to-life depiction purposes, but when it seeps into every pore, I get angry. Women are only good for dodging chocolate muffins in the street; getting confused over which damn yoghurt to eat; musing over pebble shaped air fresheners and also the most important job of all - holding "compare-your-shopping-receipts-parties" - I must do that next week!

I get angry at having to buffer my daughter at every turn: at the corner shop, supermarkets, petrol stations, newspaper stands - so-called Lads mags, Sunday Sport, pornography and fickle displays of women are everywhere. What are boys and girls supposed to make of this?

The first time my daughter exclaimed in a petrol station queue, she was 5 years old: "What are big jugs mummy?" The queue members looked at me as if I was some permissive lax parent. I found the courage to point out that it was the shop that was wrong and that my child and I should have a right to buy a pint of milk without having to have the producers of milk thrust in our faces. I now challenge and have managed to get numerous shops to consider their responsibilities and change to dust covers and appropriate displays.

Women's bodies are for consumption everyday and in every conceivable way. Increasingly, this is now becoming a problem for boys and men, but not any where near to the same extent. If we saw men depicted in the way women are in local shops etc., there would be uproar.

Pornography: porneia - the lowest class of whore in ancient Greece; graphico/graphia - graphic depiction.

So, there we have it: The Graphic Depiction of the lowest class of Whores, every day, in every way. Think about what that means for a moment; it's truly horrible.

I am not so naive as to think that the porn industry or the depictions of women as fickle will disappear, but I do believe that each and everyone of us should consider our part in these depictions. Our daughters, our mothers, our girls, our women and increasingly boys - we should have their backs at every turn and demand a 'public' space in which we can all feel safe.

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