Oh how exciting! It’s International Women’s Day (IWD)!
It hardly seems a year has passed and here we all are – out in force again. On Friday, we massed at the Women of the World festival at the Southbank Centre in London. Today we’re on the march to Westminster.
It’s going to be thrilling to see Tory peer Baroness Jenkin getting down there with us. She’s working so hard to raise the quota of Conservative female MPs. She wants some more ‘Conservative’ representation with her, I heard. So aspiring political girls get shoed up.
I can’t wait to see the feminist icons she’ll be locking arms with. Laura Bates, the founder of Everyday Sexism Project? Caroline Criado-Perez, the feminist activist and journalist who suffered such dreadful Twitter abuse? Or maybe Lucy Ann Holmes of the No More Page 3 campaign?
The excitement has been building. You couldn’t miss it. “Empowering women, empowering humanity! Picture it!” is the United Nation’s battle cry. And a good one too. Then there’s been #Makeithappen. Pity it didn’t for #Bringbackourgirls, but we must never give up.
Who could not be revved up by it all? Woman’s Hour was – for the whole thrilling week.
First up, was a celebration of women composers. Heroines in the face of discrimination you know – there must be, otherwise there would be more of them.
Next day they chose football and sexism therein. Sadly, I was too busy to listen to how unreasonable it is that Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham don’t have 50/50 women and men. How prejudiced those misogynist football managers are!
But I knew the score already.
I’d just heard Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, being (quite rightly) reprimanded on another BBC programme. The male interviewer wouldn’t accept his excuse that discrimination did not account for so few women scientists applying for awards and getting fellowships. He was really good. The interviewer I mean.
A new day and another theme and porn was upon us. Brave or what, I thought! Well it’s high time I caught up with this latest feminist frontier. Let’s face it, why can’t women be accused of being pornographers-in-chief too?
And then there’s the question of porn empowering women. I hadn’t thought of that one before. Can it liberate, celebrate and enhance or does it enslave, debase and corrupt, Jane Garvey, the Woman’s Hour presenter asked? She is just so intelligent and thoughtful.
It fell to her to host this special debate for BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour (Jenni Murray was in Dubhai – but more of that later) which was recorded in front of an audience at the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank Centre in London. Jane said she’d come in trepidation.
I am not sure what the Stop Page Three campaigners made of the porn theme. It was a bit near the bone (no pun intended) having to listen to the likes of artist, activist and erotic emporium founder Sam Roddick, feminist porn performer and producer Pandora Blake, and adult performer and sexual activist Benedict Garrett.
It even got me a bit embarrassed.
But even if it was a tad too much for the third world ladies “in whose shoes” our British feminists are meant to be walking, it wasn’t too much for Annie Lennox. She was Woman’s Hour star guest for IWD.
She was terribly excited – just being with so many women. She said she’d never experienced anything like it before in her life. That must be what the UN meant about empowerment and making it happen.
She wanted to make it happen for everyone; she said she wanted to include everyone in feminism. She didn’t want anyone left out. So lovely of her. She said it was terrible that some women felt they couldn’t be feminists and we must redefine it so they feel they could. I do so agree and Jane Garvey agreed too. It was shameful that some successful women still said they wouldn’t call themselves feminists.
I looked around for Jenni Murray but she wasn’t there. I read the next day in the newspaper she hadn’t been wasting her time though. She ‘d been speaking at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai. Goodness, not about porn I hoped.
It wasn’t, thank God. Her speech was quite cutting edge though – all about the BBC promoting more plain and overweight women to key news roles – like her, she said, but preferably older.
She is right, of course – it is terrible when pretty girls get the presenting jobs. It’s much fairer to all of us if they are plain.
You know what, I think Jenni is on to something here. Plain fat empowerment will catch on faster than porn empowerment, with her weight behind it.
After all, fat always was a feminist issue. Now we have a chance of it being institutionalised. Women in Jenni’s image will become the norm – hurray.
She is truly inspiring. Here are her words verbatim – and I could not put it better myself:
“My day of delight will be when we don’t have the avuncular rather overweight, rather plain man with the autocutie sitting next to him who is probably 25 , and terribly pretty, with big eyes, lovely hair, and thin. When we have somebody who maybe even looks like me doing it – an older woman. That will be the day when we have really triumphed”
Now how empowering is that? All we have to do is make it happen!