Saturday, 20 June 2015


sometimes some topics and ideas just go round your head for a few weeks. you have a discussion with yourself about them and you bring them up in conversation and then finally you just decide you want to have a mull with the keyboard.

i read an article about Charlize Theron a few weeks ago, in last month's Elle, and in it she discussed the double standards of Hollywood and the pay gap between male and female actors. ive read articles on pay inequality and the 'glass ceilings' women encounter in the workplace lots of times but for some reason this one article made me think. i discussed it with my mum and reasoned that ive never really thought about the subject in any great detail before. like extreme poverty, homophobia, racism; i know it exists but its not something i have felt has ever affected me.

this isnt to paint a picture that my (former) career was blessed with promotion, more that ive never worked anywhere where there were opportunities to progress within the time frame i was there. and significant pay rises (by this i mean more that £1 an hour extra) didnt come my way not because i was a women but because i worked for a small, family run business in an agricultural area. and, whether it was pure ignorance on my part, but i never once felt that i couldnt rise up the ranks, should i wish too, simply because i was female. i knew people who worked in London and said things like ''i need to give my clients more face time.'' maybe they saw the glass ceiling but i certainly didnt.

why this particular article in Elle struck me i dont know. but i was genuinely shocked to read that Charlize had achieved what had not been done before in the film industry, to be paid the same as her male co-star, Chris Hemsworth. i discussed in disbelief with my mum that i couldn't believe this hadn't happened before, surely the actors and actresses with equal screen time got paid the same? she was pretty accepting of the fact, that's the way it had always been, right or wrong. 

it was the Sony email leaks, disclosing the difference in pay between Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and their male costars in American Hustle, that brought the Hollywood pay gap into the spotlight. and from that moment on i think there has been a jump- start of interest, again, in equal rights, in pay equality, in roles for women, in double standards, in sexism. basically lets call it feminism. because feminism became something of a dirty word, certainly in my teenage to adulthood years. we heard stories about Emily Pankhurst when we grew up, we listened to girl power in our tweens and then something happened. maybe we all started to view feminism and feminists negatively, in a very laddish way? we started to scorn and paint with a stereotype brush. whatever way a lot of us disregarded it i think. or we were too young for it in the wider world away from history lessons and wannabe.

maybe it was the birth of Heat magazine and the celebrity culture. maybe it was the fact that we were so keen to be as sexualised as possible because it was our right and it didnt mean we were knowing'(as my Nanna would call it) just because we dressed like it. maybe it was because women were starting to get tired of the 'have it all culture' they had grown up with and actually wanted to breastfeed and stay at home with their babies.

journalist and author Polly Vernon recently published her book Hot Feminist, touted as ''a brave new perspective on feminism'', basically an entertaining perspective on being a modern feminist and that its ok to want to be perceived as 'hot' as well as caring about women's rights. i havent read it yet but i read a fascinating article with Polly and ive also read many reviews on the book. and like it or loathe it, agree with it or not, she has a valid point in that one of the things that went wrong with 'feminism' in the last few years is that women kept judging women. we're all guilty of jumping up and down about men and the media labeling us but we actually do it to each other more. so women who felt they were true feminists would scorn at those professing to be one whilst still making sure they kept their waxing appointments. and TOWIE influenced girls would scorn at those eager to make a stand against sexulisation in the media. so Polly makes the point that why cant we just be as we are, and still be a feminist and be each others biggest supporters?

ive also been really inspired by Hilary and Chelsea Clinton of late, im a sucker for the American presidential election term on term anyway, so with Hilary running its going to be a fascinating watch. you could see years ago, when she was the First Lady and later when she became Obama's number two, that if there were to be a first female president, it was going to be Hilary. 

and i didnt know too much about Chelsea, other than she was a few years older than me, had a mass of curly hair and had a baby girl about a year after i had Seb. but after sacking off a career in finance she works closely with The Clinton Foundation and, in main, their initiative No Ceilings. this project aims to 'inspire and advance the full participation of girls and women around the world.' in short it covers education, violence, poverty, health and aims to build a report of real date on how women are progressing through all walks of life, so they can access the problem areas. what suck with me was, when talking about life since becoming a mother, Chelsea said she felt she owed it to her daughter Charlotte to try and make the world better for her. and i felt the same way. i want Seb to grow up with a full understanding of equality.

its all too easy to get drawn into your own world and stay there, without opening your eyes and your mind to whats happening out in the wider world. i live in a very white, very middle class area and a lot of local people work within the city walls; for the railway, in hospitality and tourism or for Aviva. maybe it wasn't just me and glass ceilings don't occur to that many women here either. but just like the casual racism that exists here (and many other places), maybe there is casual sexism and we just don't notice because we've grown up and live in a traditional place and that's just how life is.

thats why i think its important to read. and discuss. and not be afraid to speak out, in protest or in discussion. to keep our eyes and mind open and to teach equality on all levels.

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