Friday, 24 December 2010

More Important Stuff from TED

I know I have been posting a lot of TED stuff lately, but the TEDWomen conference was so full of extraordinary, inspiring and visionary women, that it seems important to keep spreading their words around the world.

This talk is particularly significant to me, as I look to making my first steps into the working world. I am particularly struck by the data pertaining to the likability of successful women and men. I hope to be one of the women who, in whatever small way, helps to right this inequality – it seems crazy that we still have so far to go. Our minds haven’t caught up with our legislation yet. Equality still eludes us in fundamental ways.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Will Men and Women Be Warring Forever?

I am writing this while watching Hanna Rosin declare the end of the male gender. Women are getting more degrees, more PHDs, more jobs…

What I’m about to write it going to be very unpopular, but it is an observation, not a fact. Just an opinion, not an official ruling.

From Jezebel

I genuinely believe that my female friends are much, MUCH more employable than my male friends. Obviously there are exceptions, some of the most phenomenally smart and qualified people I know are male, but in general, the women are much more hireable.

Don’t ask me why, but the women I know have undertaken more, and more impressive, work experience, have travelled, have leadership skills from taking part in groups and activities since they were young. Most of the guys I know have one hobby only: sports. Football, Formula 1, or whatever, they spend their extra time playing it, watching it, and in the pub they talk about it.

They are less developed. At 21 and 22, their humour is still largely racist and sexist, they are closed-minded about interests that would make them seem less masculine, and their level of sensitivity is shocking low.

Hanna Rosin’s outlook seems extremely bleak to me. It assumes that there must ALWAYS be one dominant gender, which was never the goal of the feminist movement. EQUAL rights is what women fought for, and what we still fight for to this day; righting the millennia old bias towards men. But that is not to say that we want to take everything they had for ourselves.

I am merely picking out one point she has made about the education, emotional intelligence and employability of men leaving higher education, which is exactly the point that I am at today.

In a few months time (with a lot of hard work and a few exams) I will graduate from one of the best universities in the UK. It is my observation that while most of my male friends could talk extensively about the upcoming transfer window, or the season-wide performance of the Red Bull team, or the porn that they have recently watched online, their skills as employees are far below those of the women around them.

So, there it is. I have no doubt that as they age and mature, their interests will broaden and their outlook will adjust to be more tolerant, but in the meantime, the women are stronger candidates.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Inspiring and Heart-Breaking...

This TED talking is something that absolutely everyone - mothers, fathers, grandparent, teachers and leaders - even outside of the extreme circumstances that Tony Porter experienced as a teenager, there is so much truth in the 'Man Box' idea.

When my mother died, my father worked incredibly hard to ensure that my two brothers and I could express our feelings openly and without judgement. ALl the while, trying to remain strong for us as he grieved. But we were children. When my father died a few years later we were teenagers, and my brothers both struggled with showing their emotions. My little brother, only 10 years old, was so embarrassed to have been seen crying by his friends that he initially refused to return to school.

It broke my heart. I never felt stifled in that way. And to be unable to grieve openly when something like that happens... Well, it would destroy the best of men.

The work that Tony Porter is doing is vital to us all. As he says, "My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman".

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Under-The-Shirt Politics...

I have always looked on Victoria’s Secret ads with a totally puzzled and fairly disgusted eye. Their catalogues are famous the world over as more likely to be found covered with not-mysterious stains under a teenage boy’s bed than with pages hopefully turned down on the average woman’s kitchen table. ‘Victoria Secret model’ is synonymous with ‘Most Beautiful Women in the World’ airbrushed to a whole new level of terrifying perfection. ‘Angel’ is a laughable and insulting term for these bra-and-panties clad gym-and-salad gorging semi-humans. In a sense, however, it didn’t matter. It is an American institution; it is the American way. It was across the pond and avoidable.

But now, like all things, the inevitable American influence has washed up on our shores in the form of La Senza’s Cup-Sized Choir. Seriously, who are they trying to sell to? Boyfriends and husbands? Not only appealing to the lowest-common-denominator of the male gender, but also a slap-in-the-face Christmas gift. ‘Honey, I saw boobs on TV and thought buying the product for you would make you more desirable…’. Well Merry Fucking Christmas to you too! Why don’t I book you in for a penis enlargement?

Why is women’s underwear advertised this way? In our lifetimes, probably 90% of our underwear ownership is about comfort, support and fit. About US! 10% is about looking hot for some luck guy. If we put the power of purchase in the hands of men, what is left? We’ll all be walking around with scraps of fabric up our asses and nipple tassels under our work shirts…

There is a whole other post to be written about the fact that there is only one store in the UK that sells bras made in real sizes. Any woman who has been measured by a professional knows that hardly anyone is actually a 34B. For now, though, I ask you, WHY WHY WHY is our underwear being sold to us via men? Why is the sexy 10% of our underwear needs the only part being pitched to us?

In closing, I should make it abundantly clear that I absolutely love wearing hot underwear, the objects themselves are not anti-feminist, but I don’t see how these ads can be taken any other way…

Gobbets for a Little Girl

Over a year ago I blogged about ‘1001 Rules for My Unborn Son’, a wonderful blog started by an expectant father. It crossed my mind then and again recently that a similar thing ought to be written to an unborn daughter. As someone whose parents didn’t get the chance to impart their wisdom, I often wonder what they would have taught me. They both left letters telling their three children to live their lives well, to laugh and love and above all to find friends to rely on and to share life with. But what about the rest? This morning, going through my GReader for the first time in days, I found that Jezebel’s resident father-of-daughter writer ‘Daddy Issues’ had written a list of ’10 Things Every Dad Should Teach his Daughter’ which is a start… Maybe you’ll write me a comment, or maybe you’ll just write some down to tell her later… But what would you tell your daughter about life? Here are some of mine…

1. Saving money is important, but spoiling yourself is too. You can’t take it with you when you go!

2. Having things in common isn’t important, what’s important is finding the people who you can talk to about absolutely anything. Argue, debate, disagree… But always accept the opinion of others and always listen.

3. No art form is above any other. TV, film, literature, art, music, dance… All forms of creation have the power to move us and teach us.

4. Getting drunk isn’t a sin, but know your limits, and know when to stop. There are many times and places that it is not appropriate to be intoxicated including weddings (or really any rite-of-passage or religious occasion), formal balls, and anywhere you are trying to impress people. Drunkenness is never, ever impressive. Also, beware of starting a story with ‘This one time I was SO drunk..’ no one thinks you’re clever or funny when you utter that premise.

5. Fall in love with places. Look around you and see the incredible beauty in both city- and country-scapes.

6. Love yourself. There is a fine line between self-love and arrogance. You can never have too much of the former, but the latter should be avoided.

7. Be competitive, but be gracious in victory and defeat.

8. Always, always thank your teachers. Their job is among the most important in the world. There are good and bad teachers but their intention is always to improve your life. When you find one who inspires you, make sure they know it.

9. Make speeches. Eloquent or not, if you are moved to say something out of love, on any occasion, you should do so…

10. You do not have to believe that blood is thicker than water, but family is important. It is where you are formed, and they have known you from day one.