All hail the sisterhood! (especially if you are a man)
Raised by a fabulous, strong woman, educated in an all-girls grammar school and graduating from a red-brick Uni I have ‘feminist’ written through me like a stick of rock. I have had a good career, I have devoted much of the past eleven years to being a ‘stay at home mum’ and I now run a house, three kids and two businesses. I have been a modern woman on both sides of the working fence; whether in designer heels or covered in yoghurt and baby sick.
Whichever side of that fence you’re on – sometimes it sucks being a girl.
Yesterday the BBC revealed the pay of its highest earners and, surprise surprise, revealed a staggering pay gap between the highest paid female ‘talent’ and their male counterparts. I almost pitied the BBC Executive, James Purnell for having to take the gig of going up against the formidable Kirsty Wark to discuss this issue – but then I drank a glass of wine and watched him squirm for his, (inflated because he is a man), money. He talked of not being able to take a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to salaries as they had to look at each contract and make a ‘value judgement’ – based on what exactly? The size of somebody’s balls?
A teacher friend of mine said that her husband was considering doing the bridging course between secondary and primary teaching. Why? ‘because often a male primary school teacher who is any good can make Head Teacher in two years’ she said, and that’s in a workforce where 85% of the staff are women.
Jesus Christ. Really? Seriously? All those women burning their bras in the 70’s for this?
There is a real uprising on social media right now of strong, gobby, fabulous women, pushing for women to take their rightful place in the world. But it’s 2017 FFS and it’s a world where women are still having to launch campaigns like #flexappeal – fighting for decent rights and pay for women returning from maternity leave. I know I’m not the only one who returned to work after becoming a mother to be treated like I’d pushed out my brain at the same time as birthing a child. Where women are stripping to their knickers on social media determined to stand proud and be taken seriously, wobbly bits and all.
Where, God forbid, my son thinks one minute he wants to be winner of the Tour de France and the next minute a pioneering doctor in paediatrics, but my daughter, who is equally bright, has been raised by a fearsome feminist and has read every ‘storybook for strong girls’ going, is setting her sights far lower. She isn’t lazy, so why has self-doubt already permeated her young mind? Maybe it is me and my career hopping, maybe it’s the fact that daddy goes out to his ‘professional job’ and mummy does all the crap jobs at home and rants about it a lot!
Or, maybe sometimes it just sucks being a girl?
I attended a high-profile conference last week about how to get press coverage in the nationals for small businesses. The 80 attendees were almost exclusively women. Driven women, intelligent women, passionate and talented women – and a less than overwhelming three men. Ironically, the first delegate to secure a possible pitch to the journalist was – you guessed it, one of the men. Where were all the driven, passionate, talented male small business owners…? I have my suspicions that they were out in the business world doing business and approaching the press rather than asking for help and there sure as hell aren’t any men ‘grammed in their y-fronts saying ‘I’ve got a really tiny penis but I’m bloody gorgeous and good at my job’.
I’m determined to raise my girls to expect more and my son to be a better man. And hey, maybe I really don’t need to worry after all. My youngest daughter has just told me that she wants to be a dinosaur. That’s fierce enough for me.
I’m a woman and a bloody good one at that. And ain’t no man going to do that job better than me.