Tuesday, March 08, 2011

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

This is a guest post by Jessica Goldfinch of Norwich Green Party, originally posted here.

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 responsibilites 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 anywhere 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, 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.

12 comments:

EscapeVelocity said...

Women still earn in the regions of 17% less


Men dont live as long, are more likely to die from violence and are vastly over represented in dangerous and physical labor jobs.

Do we need an International Men's Day?

or should we instead ponder why the women's groups arent launching initiatives to have half of the garbage pickup jobs be filled by women?

Maybe more pondering of the differences between men and women would do society more good, than this Leftwing disinguenuous societal wedge warfare? Of course there are less votes in it, and its not as effective method to divide and conquer bourgeois attitudes and institutions.

But enjoy your International Women's Day, oh sower of discord and disharmony.

Jessica Goldfinch said...

@Escape Velocity
the tone of your response is very interesting.

You don't know me and yet your list of 'labels' and motives applied to me, in an instant, are very telling: Leftwing; disingenuous; sower of disharmony; bourgeois; wanting to divide/conquer; make a societal wedge; seeking votes.

This piece is just one part of my 'thoughts' and repetoire on gender politics. It is a genuine take on my experiences of daily life and you will note that the tone of my piece asks us all to work together. This is how I live my life with regard to all genders, all folk, old, young etc. I don't always get 'it' right and fail a lot, but I just have to keep breathing in and out and carry on.

There are, of course, gaps/discrimination, disadvantages, horrors and tragedies inflicted on men and I would still argue that at the bottom of the heap will be women.

Likewise, women are capable of cruelty and venom and can inflict this on men and boys. I have witnessed this myself and for the record have had jobs cleaning toilets and collecting rubbish.



I get angry sometimes and you are obviously angry.

I try to 'do' things about my anger; this has included mental health work, child abuse work and rent boy child trafficking, Foundation for the Victims of Torture and writing the odd small piece on International Women's Day, amongst many. I bring a lot of personal experience to my work and that is what drives me.

Men too have organised themselves into interest groups and I feel sure that if men wanted an International Day, then there would be one.

Transgender people are also mobilsing, but their journey seems to be at the fledgling stage. A hard slog ahead, but we can all help each other between and within these groups until maybe, just maybe, it all becomes redundant.

Label and call me all you want to, be angry at me all you want to, but that won't change anything. Doing 'something' about it will and I hope you do already. Tell me about it if you want to.

If you find all the above condescending, I can't help that, but think for a moment what you've deemed appropriate to label me as.

EscapeVelocity said...

Labels are a sign of intelligent thought.

Keep working on undermining Western Civilization, language, institutions. Soon enough you will be wearing a burka, and homosexuals will be swinging from cranes and you will wonder what happened, no doubt blaming "the Other" for your woes.

Im sorry that you are angry and confused, but you arent helping.

One day you may understand, but Im sure the pay is good peddling victimization narratives and undermining Western Civilization until then.

bob said...

I said in the other thread that I was going off line, but this has been bothering me. Escape Velocity, you are completely entitled to your views on equality between men and women, but you have no right to presume anything about Jessica. In particular, your claim that "the pay is good peddling victimization narratives" may be true of part of the tenured salariat at the West's elite universities, but is offensive in relation to Jessica/ Try and be polite! Thank you.

Sarah AB said...

I'm not unsympathetic to the post but I'm unsure about the (repeated) phrase 'lowest class of whores'.

EscapeVelocity said...

Im sorry, people dont have to be malevolent to be dangerous and destructive.

Noga said...

Anger makes people stupid because most people are incapable of setting a limit to righteous anger, beyond which it is no longer a moral marker but a warrant for some darker impulses. Escape Velocity is coming from a school of anger that makes people stupid. He doesn't have to be stupid. I have known him on line for many years. He is a good person. But he likes to manufacture realities in which he, the white male Christian, is a persecuted minority on the brink of extinction. Thus he buys into all sorts of conspiracy theories, such as that Leftist Jews want to dismantle Western civilization. He supports Israel because he has a perverted view of it, not unlike that of the levi99's of this universe. In other words, I have very little use for Escape Velocity's ideas.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Sarah

I'm not unsympathetic to the post but I'm unsure about the (repeated) phrase 'lowest class of whores'.

Yeah, that part made me uneasy as well.

Firstly, it's an argument from etymology. Which simply doesn't work; language changes far too much through usage for it to do so. Which is why we can use "nice" without it being a reference to "ignorant".

More importantly, I don't think it's a useful context in trying to thrash out discussion about the complex issue of pornography.

If we see pornography as about "the lowest class of whores" then that's going to have a real effect on the women who work in the industry, whatever out intentions. Ironically, the kind of dehumanisation contained in the phrase is a mirror of that which we see in some pornography.

Jessica Goldfinch said...

@Sarah and Waterloo:
I should have perhaps explained better, but only used the 'phrase' to make the point that you are making, though I hoped it was implied. Must be more exlanatory next time. It was just a short 'rant' about how I get tired of buffering against 'stuff' and seeing women depicted in this way in yet another corner shop, when all I wanted was a newspaper and some mints.

Without getting into the whole issue of pornography, (pros and cons), it's only when I learned the origins of the word, (I'm from the era of Dworkin!), rather than its more emancipated modern generic usage, that I saw the set up of women-against-women is often encouraged and how unacceptable it was/is think "well I'm not a prostitute so it doesn't matter how they're treated" and that somehow a heirarchy made that ok, which in my mind it doesn't.

Not sure I've explained it any better, but tried.

Sarah AB said...

Thanks Jessica - sorry for underreading your post. I have read with interest your contributions to Greens Engage in the past, by the way.

EscapeVelocity said...

Just wanted to add, that Noga's argument against me is the same one the Left uses against Israeli Jews.

They wish to hold onto their power and oppress the other and maintain their supremacy, and they have breached moral boundries in doing so, which reveal darker impulses.

EscapeVelocity said...

While claiming that it is they who are the persecuted minority and not the poor palestinian Muslims whose land that they stole.

Classic.