What a world. The whiff of SEXISM is in everything from children’s songs to mainstream newspapers. Today’s post IS IN CAPITAL LETTERS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!!!!
But for the sake of easy reading, I will stick to lower-case.
(I confess I haven’t had the best of weeks and today’s blog post is rant-therapy).
The word “patriarchy” feels so old-school wimmins-libby I have never used it in conversation without a sardonic expression and unspoken comedy quotation marks. But it’s still relevant: with so few women in positions of political power, and so many insidious examples of gender-stereotyping leaking out of every social crevice.
I take Mini to toddler singing sessions every other week or so. Her favourite song is “the wheels on the bus”. For those of you who haven’t given up hours of your life to nursery rhymes, the basic premise of it is that exciting things happen on a bus like doors going “open and shut”, bells going “ding a ling a ling” and wipers going “swish swish swish”. (I have often considered writing my own localised version with teenagers going “text text shout” and drunks going “swear swear puke”).
On this jolly baby-bus, gender roles are clearly defined. “Mummies” apparently go “chatter chatter chatter” and “daddies” go “shush shush shush”. I don’t know what fantasy bus this song is referring to, but on the real bus mummies are either feeding their children snacks to keep them quiet, or are staring blankly into space, enjoying the quiet coma that the bus has sent their child into. Daddies on the other hand are rarely seen on the bus. If there is a daddy on the bus, he is probably reading the paper or playing angry birds. (I know that falling into my own gender-stereotypes is unhelpful but THIS IS A RANT remember?)
And then… oh joy… The Sun. A campaign from page three encouraging women to self-examine for breast cancer. Enough anger on this matter has already been spewed onto the blogosphere and I have nothing new to contribute but, safe to say, it’s bollocks. Promoting self-examination for women under 35 when your readership is predominantly male is the clearest indicator of bollocksness. Why not promote self-examination for testicular cancer with a similar front-page picture of a naked man cupping his balls? (I think we all know the answer to that one). If it gets one more young woman to self-examine and get treatment for cancer at an early stage then hooray for that. But what a pathetic and misogynist way to do it.
Saying “down with the patriarchy” without tongue-in-cheek feels slightly ridiculous, so it’s taken me a long while to realise that I want to shout it almost every day.
Walking Mini to the childminder, seeing the other mums doing the same and watching the dads head to work encumbered by nothing more than a cup of coffee: Down with the patriarchy!
Singing countless children’s songs where all the protagonists are “he”, as if everything from teddy-bears to giraffes is male unless stated otherwise: Down with the patriarchy!
Hearing toddlers being told to stop crying, just because they’re boys… Buying a toy for my nephew and seeing how much more interesting and educational the “boys’ toys” section is compared to the “girls’ toys”… Mourning the loss of potential, skill and wisdom experienced in some parts of the church because women are not encouraged to exercise their gifts… Uncovering the proportionate lack of funding in medical research for some women’s health issues compared to men’s… Having to use the fingers on both hands to count the number of women I know who’ve been sexually assaulted… being ruled by a cabinet where there are more men from Eton than there are women from anywhere… Down with the patriarchy! Down with the patriarchy! Down with the patriarchy!
(This post is dedicated to Mary Beard http://www.lrb.co.uk/2014/02/14/mary-beard/the-public-voice-of-women “What we need is some old fashioned consciousness-raising about what we mean by the voice of authority and how we’ve come to construct it.” I may also have to dedicate it to the large glass of wine I plan to have this evening!)