Advanced search

I don't know where to start...

(145 Posts)
StuntGirl Mon 31-Dec-12 01:26:43

Please excuse this long, disjointed post. I'm sure everything I write here will be obvious, and old news to everyone here, but its a recent thing I'm struggling to deal with.

I've always considered myself a feminist, in that I believed in equal rights for women. I thought it was inherently wrong to discriminate based on gender, and I challenged it where I came across it. I have however, never been particularly active with regards to feminism. I've always known we live in a male dominated society, I've always known women can be discriminated against, I've always known women still face struggles based on simply being women and I've always challenged it where I can but for the most part I suppose I've been fairly passive. But for some reason, very recently, every small injustice has screamed out at me. I'm noticing, with increasing irritation, the unequal representation of the sexes in the media, the unequal opportunities presented to men vs women, the gaping inequality in family life.

A few weeks ago I was watching QI. It suddenly dawned on me the entire panel was male.
Just before Christmas we were watching Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, and about a quarter of the way into it I realised every performer had been male.
I recently read an article in the Guardian about female representation in film, and was introduced to the Bechdel test. I was astonished to read what a huge percentage of films don't pass this ridiculously simple test.
Last night I watched a Horizon programme on asteroids, and was saddened to notice that not a single female scientist was questioned in the programme at all.
Today we went to watch The Hobbit, which I noticed also did not pass the Bechdel test.

I commented on Facebook last night about the Horizon programme, and was absolutely expecting one or more people to make some lame sexist joke and I was proven right on the very first comment. Depressingly, out of all the comments in the discussion that followed, the one that got the most likes was that initial 'joke'.

Today after the film I commented to my brother about the Bechdel test, and was surprised to find he scoffed at me over applying this test to a book written so long ago. I tried to explain I wasn't thinking about The Hobbit in isolation, but as part of media in general. He scoffed some more, rolled his eyes, and made me feel like I was being a whiny bitch by bringing it up at all. My own brother! A man I have always considered intelligent, respectful, liberal and a feminist himself.

I think the thing that has saddened me most about my recent, well, epiphany I suppose, is the reactions from the males in my life when I raise the topic. Men I have up until now considered, like my brother, to be intelligent, respectful men who want an equal society. I guess my eyes are opening to how much that may not be true, how much they are indoctrinated themselves.

The only male who has shared my reactions has been my boyfriend. I have seriously never loved him so much as over these past few days.

I guess what I'm saying is, I need a place to discuss these issues, to understand them and speak to people who share the same beliefs. I need to find out more, and do more. Can anyone point me in the direction of some good feminist resources, or communities? Until now I've held a passive interest in feminism, and somehow suddenly that doesn't seem enough.

grimbletart Thu 03-Jan-13 12:07:48

I've worked in pretty much male environments except in one job where it was the reverse.

I've roared with laughter in the pub with my male workmates.

But honestly, the funniest moments I remember were when, in my female dominated job, we got together late on a Friday for drink before going home. I can still recall weeping with laughter at the repartee, observational humour and the sheer "ain't life a blast" humour of those women only moments.

doyouwantfrieswiththat Thu 03-Jan-13 12:17:33

Same here grimbletart with the women only repartee. Relaxed, funny, good stuff, but when men join our mix it's uncomfortable for me. Conditioning here.

As for all female humour on a panel show, if only they could replace the loose women with some comediennes .....but I don't think it would attract a mixed demographic in the same way as the male dominated shows.

I wonder how many men currently watch loose women.

FestiviaBlueberry Thu 03-Jan-13 22:48:51

StuntGirl, your OP reminded me of this brilliant post which struck a huge chord with me when I first read it:

runningforthebusinheels Thu 03-Jan-13 23:20:37

Festivia I love the Shakesville blog.

There are the occasions that men—intellectual men, clever men, engaged men—insist on playing devil's advocate, desirous of a debate on some aspect of feminist theory or reproductive rights or some other subject generally filed under the heading: Women's Issues. These intellectual, clever, engaged men want to endlessly probe my argument for weaknesses, want to wrestle over details, want to argue just for fun—and they wonder, these intellectual, clever, engaged men, why my voice keeps raising and why my face is flushed and why, after an hour of fighting my corner, hot tears burn the corners of my eyes. Why do you have to take this stuff so personally? ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged men, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that's so much fun for them is the stuff of my life.

So true. A few these intellectual, clever engaged men frequent FWR.

gussiegrips Fri 04-Jan-13 14:46:35

Thanks, fries for pointing me to this thread, am loving it (seewhaddadidthur?)

Here's my post from the ~"comedian's" thread. Budge up, I'm inviting myself into your gang...

I do a wee bit of stand up as a hobby. Not enough women to chat to backstage, tis true.

It's a mix of reasons - I am usually told (by men, obviously) "women just aren't funny, you just go on about periods and stuff..." whilst young, skinny, white guys in tight t-shirts and falling down jeans going on about fiddling with their bits is just so witty and original

And, to be fair, there are a depressing number of women presenting themselves as pretty, ditsy, and "ohmaigawsh, I just said "cunt", how surprised are you?" Ehm, not very, love. Slightly disappointed in you, but, you're getting booked, so what do you care?

It's changing, there are some really very funny people on the live circuit...but, to make the break to telly you have to slog on the circuit for a long time. And, that's got the same childcare issues as any other job, so lots of women drop out, same as any other job.

There are lots of women writing for the telly. For, you know, the young guys in tight white t-shirts.

Anyhoo - in no particular order, just as they pop into my pretty little head, women you might have seen on the telly.

Susan Calman - clever, quick, flirty
Janey Godley - brutal, hilarious, kind of awesome
Jo Caulfield - sardonic, bitch, great recalls
Jojo Sutherland - great story teller, really fast, don't heckle.

two women in the Amused moose final - both very good. And, both Scottish, Anna Devitt and Fern Brady. As are, ehm, all of the ones I've listed above.

Perhaps the question should be, why are only Scottish women funny? it's because that's where I live, so these are the people I've seen, sorry about that

The chat I hear at the school gate is way more brutal and cutting and fast and funny than anything I hear anywhere else. But, until the comedy bosses realise there's money to be made from making women laugh about stuff they identify with, you might as well get used to patiently listening to "and then I raped her"

smashing article, feel free to debate

gussiegrips Fri 04-Jan-13 14:47:28

linky to chortle article

gussiegrips Fri 04-Jan-13 15:10:42

re. the humour...

In my limited experience - and, skooz the generalisations...

women laugh more at things they identify with. We are much more team spirited than men, we are more empathetic and so jokes based around social awkwardness, embarrassment or "I was so sleep deprived x, y and z happened" work a treat.

Men laugh more at situations where there's a butt to the joke. So, they like funny stories where there's clearly an idiot, they like to feel superior to the eejit who did WHAT?

They also revel in pure grossness - I have a prop that's a really nasty knitted bag (it's an anatomically accurate bag that looks like female genitals. It's called "the snatchel" . The premise is that I have teenage sons who are becoming sexually active, so I knitted them a bag to keep their condoms in, hoping to get them to develop a pavlovian response between female genitalia and condoms) which the men just applaud. It's got a punchline that upstages me every time, if it's a male heavy audience.

Men do find women funny, but, they are EXPECTING to be told off by women on stage, there's many female comedians who are gay or divorced, or both. Male audiences are super-sensitive to critisism.

The bookers and promoters though? They like pretty girls who say "cunt" Because, it's not too much of a gamble to put a pretty girl on stage.

I know that Susan Calman was told "shame you don't look a bit more like Zoe Lyons, love" by a promoter "you can be gay, or you can be fat, but you can't be both"

Shocked? Yep. Well, what's worse, is that the promoter is a woman.

Tell you what, you lot would love Janey Godley. There's a feminist and a half, cleverly disguised as a "what, did you lot think the cleaner had wandered onto the stage?" She's the only comedian who's made a rape joke that I've laughed at - she makes it work because she's (sadly) got personal experience of rape. To turn her situation into humour, and use it the way she does, and make good money at it - genius. She's a real trailblazer for older women - but, you'll not see her on QI.

FestiviaBlueberry Fri 04-Jan-13 15:23:36

Well maybe we should be campaigning for her to be on QI.

I actually don't watch it. I can't tolerate a bunch of smug willy-wavers laughing at each other's jokes, especially when one of them is Stephen Fry, whom I only seem to be able to tolerate in Blackadder nowadays. If there were more women on QI I might turn it on occasionally.

<Realises with shock that I've never actually seen a whole episode. Could never sit through it.>

StuntGirl Fri 04-Jan-13 16:12:24

Bloody hell, I go away for a day or two and look what's happened! Quite disappointed to see the arguing a few pages back. Have only had chance to skim read, will be back later when I can properly read all the responses.

I would just like to say though Family Guy, the examples I cited were not some sudden act of me noticing these things happen. I have always been aware of gender bias in society in general, not just the media, but for some reason (which I am not yet able to articulate) the cumulative effect of these incidents hit me like a ton of bricks where it hasn't before. Believe me, I've spent my life noticing that most people represented in the media are men. You, by your own admission, have not. It's called Male Privilege, I think I mentioned it in one of my first posts.

FamilyGuy22 Fri 04-Jan-13 17:00:40


It's ok, I've already been through that questionaire and it doesn't work with my experience in this country or my industry. It certainly doesn't reflect the views of myself or many people I know and work with. I posted a link supporting this (and by many women) in Pinkypoop's thread. Here it is again. It's worth a watch IMHO


I'm not saying it doesn't exist but I'm also not a white male and the theory of white male privilege is something I have either been immune to or have yet to encounter in any meaningful way.

I'm not trolling or trying to pull down the walls of feminism but genuinely think the concept of priviledge is becoming outdated. How can it not be given equality is changing in the UK?

But yes, I understand that being priviledged I can say that it doesn't exist hmm

Sunnywithshowers Fri 04-Jan-13 17:24:37

Thanks for the link on male privilege - it's useful ammo in a discussion I'm having on Facebook.

FamilyGuy why is privilege outdated? The points on that document are still largely true. Look at the power in society - who is it held by? For the most part, by white men.

Being a man still confers benefits vs being a woman. (I do realise it doesn't take into account other factors that confer / deny privilege, such as race, class and sexuality).

StuntGirl Fri 04-Jan-13 17:31:24

It isn't white male priviledge, it's just male priviledge. It was based on a similar study about white privilege (which I enjoy on a daily basis - I am not that blinkered that I think I am Perpetually Oppressed) but the one I linked to was just male.

Softywife Fri 04-Jan-13 22:56:17

{Off-topic. I've been lurking on this throught-provoking thread but I've just got to delurk to wave at GussieGrips! smile }

doyouwantfrieswiththat Fri 04-Jan-13 23:46:44

Hi gussiegrips from me too, I was intrigued by your name & checked your profile.
Having a laugh & pelvic lifts are intrinsically linked after a certain age I guess. grin

gussiegrips Sat 05-Jan-13 01:01:13

waving backatcha

the thing that muddles me is that, how come, after a certain age, it's ok to metion prolapses - in female only company?

At LEAST one in three of us reading this thread are a bit leaky.

How come we are still putting up with "that's the way it is the inequalities in medicine/law/everyblardything the representation on our tellies?

Seriously - if you don't find it that funny...and, the people you do find funny need to prove that they are air-time worthy...what needs to happen buggered if I know, but I can't help but think that if we get the "fluffy" media jobs to sort-it-out the the "other" jobs like medicine and law etc will follow suit

I'd, personally, love the odd facial hair joke. I'd raise zillioins for movember, were it socially acceptable.

ba boom chaaa

runningforthebusinheels Sat 05-Jan-13 01:15:45

Gussiegrips great post! I'm a great fan of Jo caulfield - loved her on grumpy old women blush I think I'm a grumpy old woman actually.

Just looked up Janey Godley on YouTube as I'd never heard of her - she's great isn't she - I might make a special effort to watch QI if she was on there grin

And finally, I was just flicking through the channels at 1am (as you do when dh gone to bed and you're staying up late on your own) and I came across an episode of Embarrassing Bodies. I was right to never have never watched it - I was confronted with some poor blokes willy. Oh yes. And Dr Christian - not a female in sight so far.

Ah, ok, now Dr Pixie is in a bit on obesity and the gym - narrated by the other woman. Mmm - the analytical part of me wants to tie the male/female airtime on the show, but I think I'll more likely switch over...

StuntGirl Sat 05-Jan-13 01:39:24

WRT Dr Christian whatever, I too have never seen an episode of Embarrassing Bodies yet I know exactly who he is because I've seen him on various panel shows. So the 'men are more funny than women' concept doesn't hold true in this instance, because he's a doctor not a comedian. And yes, perhaps the female doctors are not interested in developing a tv career, or any other 'what if' scenerios x a million.

“To go back to what the OP was saying, I agree that having a feminist epiphany can be a really difficult experience”

I think what feels worse for me is that I thought I already knew this stuff. I was raised with unbelievably brilliant female role models, I was rarely restricted with any ambition for being female and if I ever was believe me I called them out on it, even as a child before I had any real concept of discrimination or feminism. I think perhaps I became complacent? It was so normal and obvious to me perhaps I just started assuming everyone thought this way because it was so, well, obvious!

Festivia – Thank you for the link, it was a very interesting read. I too, am sure I enjoy my white/straight/British privilege at the expense of others every day, all I can do is try and be as respectful as I can to others and minimise the effect where possible.

FamilyGuy – if you accept we do not live in a balanced environment how can you accuse my noticing of this imbalance as nothing more than confirmation bias? Yes, that phenomena does exist and to some degree this may have happened here. However, as noted by other posters there is abundant evidence that men are portrayed more often than women in media, men are discussed on their merits on achievements rather than appearance or marital status.

If you can't see that women are under represented despite specific examples being given then I don't know what to say to you. As other posters have said, female under representation in media is a known phenomena and there is abundant evidence proving it. It is not something I have made up. It's also ridiculously unlikely that female presenters and guests are just so beyond busy that they can't make time in their schedules to appear on television. Busy doing what I wonder? It ain't promotional tv appearances that's for sure.

I don't think anybody here has accused men of deliberately excluding women. They don't need to deliberately do it, it simply happens by proxy - and that is the problem. In the same way no one deliberately excludes men from childcare but government policy, law, workplace ,societal and cultural expectations mean men tend not to be the ones who are primary caregivers to their own children.

QI still massively under represents women, despite their ONE episode in nine years which had an all female guest list. I could have used any panel show I enjoy watching in place of QI; Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You, Eight out of Ten Cats, Big Fat Quiz of the Year, ad infinitum, which all predominantly feature male presenters, male team captains, and male guests.

“If its a default choice then it's an unconscious choice and therefore oppression is not a factor. So where is the problem?” This statement succinctly sums up the problem. You've lost the debate with this and haven't even realised.

doyouwantfrieswiththat Sat 05-Jan-13 11:55:24

I was raised in a predominantly male household with attitudes that belonged in the 19th century (older parents), my father told me I was at university so I could educate my children because I wasn't expected to have a career, and yet, I still feel more comfortable taking a back seat even with that awareness. I have no confidence that people want to hear my views.

One of my best examples was a debate I had with my brothers about some philosophical issue when my eldest brother patronisingly said, 'I can see you've thought very hard about this Fries...', and I realised he had absolutely no respect for my opinion.

I'm now mum to two boys and already see the attitude that girls are different and somehow not equal in my eldest, it is as demoralising for me now as it was for my mother.

FestiviaBlueberry Sat 05-Jan-13 19:11:26

"What's the problem?"

There speaks privilege, eh.

Sunnywithshowers Sat 05-Jan-13 19:50:01

Absolutely Festivia

Privilege = not having to worry about this shit

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now