All of us first

Asked to write a blog piece on Independence leaves me with the same feeling of erroneous responsibility that fills you up as you take the driver seat for the very first time after the L plates come off, tentatively turning the key and glancing for your absent co-driver. I have formed my own hazy opinions based primarily, I completely put my hands up and say, on my parents vibrant discussions on the debate. Despite having come to an almost definite conclusion regarding what i’ll vote, yes by the way, I definitely don’t feel armed or able to create solid arguments to involve myself in the discussions which are going on around me. And it seems that, yet again, for women across the country this is widely the case.

The current yes polls stand at around 30% of men and an estimated 22% of women. While of course polls aren’t the be all and end all, from my experience social media debates – and those had around a few pints at the pub – are too, male dominated. To me this demonstrates an issue almost as important as the very question of independence itself. Why are women not immersing themselves in the world we all share in the way that men are? For lack of a better word i’d describe myself as a feminist (although i’d prefer just a people-ist), but I definitely feel that if women are shying away and not getting involved in the current affairs which are going on around them how can we ever establish a world where gender equality isn’t a fight, but a given? Discussions with various female friends and relatives have lead me to a couple of conclusions, is it the adversarial set up of the debate (and debates in general) that puts women off? Or perhaps that we are relatively new to the whole voting system in the first place? Or, on a more intrinsic level, it could be that in general women fear contentious situations more than men, with anxieties surrounding separation – a yearning for togetherness.

For me, some of the most important issues rooted in the entire debate are in how the results will leave different groups within society feeling placed, for example English people residing in Scotland and how we guarantee they are as welcome as those born and bred in Auld Reekie.

So, while I feel completely unequipped to write a coherent and balanced piece on why my gut, heart and head are all telling me yes, I would happily get stuck into some of the remarkably pertinent issues being starkly highlighted by the Independence debate.

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Slut Shaming & Lad Culture

Is it okay in today’s society to brand a woman who enjoys having sex a “slut”? Robyn Baillie, Emma Logan and Lauren Stephen discuss:

Listen Here:

Gender Equality: Are We There Yet?

It was whilst at a flat party that I began a conversation with a friend of a friend. I was told on introduction that he was studying Politics and International Relations. After a while we got on to the subject of whether sexism was still alive and well in our society.

It was then, with pride, that Mr. International Relations announced that he believed that women were equal to men.

After this statement I deliberately kept my face vacant. He smiled widely, waiting for his pat on the back. Others standing around us began nodding their approval, clearly demonstrating their appreciation for such a stand up guy.

It was then that I rolled my eyes and walked away.

Should we really commend people for holding an opinion that is surely quite straightforward?

It seems rather alarming that gender equality is still in question and that people who agree with equality are held as paragons of society. Surely believing men and women are equal is common sense?

During September 2011, journalist John Humphries scrutinised some of the reasons behind the gender pay gap in the UK. His findings questioned whether reaching equality was a pipe dream.
Indeed, Humphries found that 41 years after the Equal Pay Legislation was passed, women in executive positions were earning £10,000 less than their male counterparts[1]. It was found that if the current pace of progress were to continue in pay settlements, it would take 98 years before women would be equal.

Forgive me for my crass use of capital letters BUT THAT’S 2 YEARS OFF OF A CENTURY.

People may be living longer, but I’m not sure I can hold on that long before I can say that women and men are paid equally.

Interestingly for any potential journalists, the Guardian reported that “male journalists wrote 78% of all front-page articles” and “men accounted for 84% of those mentioned or quoted in lead pieces”[2]. This research has aided many women’s rights activists in approaching the Leveson inquiry on the negative presentation of women in the media. For example, Anna van Heeswijk, chief executive of Object, said: “With newspapers so male-dominated, is it any surprise that women are portrayed the way they are? Changing the number of female writers and the ways in which women are portrayed in the media is crucial if we are serious about wanting a socially responsible press.”[3]

It could be argued, however, that positive changes in attitudes have been made.

For four decades Jimmy Savile sexually assaulted young girls and co-workers and their complaints and concerns were quieted, ridiculed or ignored.
Former BBC Radio 1 presenter Liz Kershaw stated “When I complained to somebody they were incredulous and said ‘Don’t you like it? Are you a lesbian?’”[4] She continued to state, “The rumours were there, the jokes were there. It was an open secret… everyone joked about Jimmy Savile and young girls.”

Disgustingly, this was allowed to happen for a very long time. However, it is evident that attitudes have changed as today’s society want answers and demand justice.
Mark Easton, the BBC Home Editor supports this view[5] as he states,
“When considering the lecherous behavior of disc jockeys and other pop celebrities in the past, we need to remember the cultural framework within which it happened.
“That is not to excuse the boorish, thoughtless or vile activities of powerful men who should have known better. But it is a reminder of how far we have come and how recent some of those changes have been.”

Evidently, attitudes are improving. But surely we need to move faster towards resolving gender inequality, not only for women, but men too.

Fathers could expect to gain 12 months of parental leave after the birth of their baby and claim “flexible parental leave” allowance, according to the Telegraph[6]. However, it was disclosed that a Cabinet disagreement has seen the introduction of the joint allowance to be delayed until October 2015, citing the negative impact on hard-pressed businesses.
Clearly, there is a struggle for both men and women to gain a level playing field.

And I certainly hope it won’t take us a century to get there.

Follow @Corri_MegAllan on twitter


 

I am a WAG

That’s right, I am a WAG. No I’m not married to a footballer and covered in fake tan, I have joined a campaign – Woman Against George.

Check out this Labour campaign against cuts that “expose how he and the Coalition are not on women’s sides” – Women Against George!

The site uses social networking to show how much support the campaign has and you can link the site on facebok and twitter to show your friends and followers where your loyalties lie and how to join the campaign themselves. It just goes to show how much social networking plays a part in everything now. However, I sometimes wonder if things like this isolates older party supporters and even MP’s. I just thought id put it out there for you to check out – it’s quite an interesting angle on the cuts too!