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Endeavour and feminism

(42 Posts)
nettie434 Sun 09-Feb-20 21:31:30

Is anybody else watching this? Set in 1970 with references to women's feminist conference and Sally Alexander. In a typical example of Endeavour in-referencing Sally Alexander was John Thaw's first wife according to Twitter. Also, a vile character won't let his wife have a cheque book. I was too young in 1970 to know about all this - an increasingly rare experience these days.

OP’s posts: |
testing987654321 Sun 09-Feb-20 22:13:05

I'm watching too. It's always good (or depressing) to realise how recently women's lib was.

Goosefoot Mon 10-Feb-20 03:28:54

This is interesting, I've wondered about Endevour with regard to women before. It seemed to me when I watched it that they very much glossed over Morse's way of relating to women.

It prompted me to rewatch the original Morse episodes, and indeed, he was a man of his time. It many ways it was more of a window on past attitudes than watching a tv show that attempts to look back from the present. There were a few episodes in the originals that dug into Morse's type of chivalry a little, and I thought they were well done. They didn't try and spoon feed you the answer, either, which I find is rather a problem with a lot of tv shows at the moment.

JellySlice Mon 10-Feb-20 08:01:40

Yes, they started off very well, in the first series, showing how Morse's personality developed, and why the crusty older man was how he was. But young Endeavour is always far more 21st Century in his behaviour than older Morse, far more egalitarian and respectful. While I prefer the younger's attitude, it is jarring when you then watch a Morse episode. TBF Endeavour is almost equally likely as Morse to try and date a witness who turns out to be materially involved in the case. hmm

I remember going to collect CB at the Post Office with my dm in the 70s. She explained it as some husbands won't let their wives have money of their own, so the government takes an amount from their salary and gives it straight to their wives to make sure they have enough to look after their children. I was appalled, and asked mum if this was the case for us. After all, my mum would often ask my dad for cash. This was when mum taught me about shared bank accounts, and showed me how she could write a cheque to cash whenever she needed some cash. But mum was nervous and didn't like carrying loads of cash, whereas dad couldn't be bothered with going to the bank whenever he wanted cash, so always had paper money in his pocket or desk drawer. He never asked mum what she wanted money for. They weren't loaded, they were comfortable if they were careful, but they trusted each other.

Decades later, that child's disbelieving sense of horror that a man would withhold money from his wife still flares up in me whenever I come across this situation.

RoyalCorgi Mon 10-Feb-20 08:35:11

Set in 1970 with references to women's feminist conference and Sally Alexander. In a typical example of Endeavour in-referencing Sally Alexander was John Thaw's first wife according to Twitter.

It's even weirder than that. Abigail Thaw, daughter of John Thaw and Sally Alexander, plays Dorothea Frazil. In the episode, Sally Alexander is played by Abigail Thaw's daughter, Molly.

Babdoc Mon 10-Feb-20 09:57:20

I was born in the 1950’s, so I DO remember the 70’s!
Marital rape was legal. Women couldn’t get a mortgage, or any loan or credit agreement without a male guarantor, you had to pay for a private prescription for the contraceptive pill as the NHS didn’t cover it, it was legal to sack women who got married or were pregnant, until the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975. There was no statutory right to maternity leave. When I applied to study medicine in 1974, the London medical schools had a 10% quota for female admissions.
Abortion had only recently been legalised (1967).
The first women’s refuges opened in the 70’s (Erin Pizzey was one of the founders). Domestic violence was considered a joke. The judge at my cousin’s divorce hearing, on being told that her husband (a GP) had punched her, said “Well, you’ll have to learn to duck, won’t you.”
On the (small) plus side, there was no violent internet porn, and the young generation of males were more into gentle hippy culture, rejecting the old patriarchy, joining anti war movements and trying to please women in bed!
It’s very true that the past is a foreign country.

BiarritzCrackers Mon 10-Feb-20 10:15:04

I've been re-watching older Morses recently too. I hadn't recalled how poor his attitude to women was - really quite angry and entitled when his advances are rebuffed. Other aspects of his interactions are so comical compared with how they seemed in 1990. It's not far off, "I'm sorry to have to tell you your husband has been murdered; but would you care to join me for dinner?"

I do mostly like Endeavour, but if I didn't already know, I wouldn't have considered that they were the same character - Morse has quite comfortable, long standing friendships that crop up all the time, whereas Endeavour seems much more of a loner (sorry, this is more the subject of a Telly Addicts thread).

But agree with how it is jarring, E's treatment of and attitude towards women being quite different.

BiarritzCrackers Mon 10-Feb-20 10:16:47

I mean I hadn't recalled from twenty years ago, when I started watching them recently. My memory was more of, "poor old Morse, never gets the woman".

nettie434 Mon 10-Feb-20 11:19:11

In the episode, Sally Alexander is played by Abigail Thaw's daughter, Molly

I missed that RoyalCorgi but yes, that is exactly the sort of thing the writer and production team like.

I did wonder about posting on Telly Addicts but I have really enjoyed the replies about Morse’s characterisation and the necessary reminders that women’s progress has been patchy and often under attack.

When I applied to study medicine in 1974, the London medical schools had a 10% quota for female admissions.

Only responding to one of that shockingly long list Babdoc but one of my strongest memories of childhood was standing around while my mum talked to a friend she had bumped into in the street. My mum’s friend was talking about her daughter who had just been offered a place in medical school with 3Bs (very good grades then). She pointed out that her son had started at the same medical school a couple of years earlier but with much worse grades. ‘Of course, they liked him,’ she said, ‘because he is good at rugby’. I think I was aged about 7 when this happened but definitely remember feeling thoroughly outraged.

OP’s posts: |
Babdoc Mon 10-Feb-20 13:18:57

Nettie, that was why I ended up doing my medical degree in Scotland! My uni took 30% women and was regarded as very modern in that regard.
Being good at rugger was almost an entry requirement for some of the London med schools in those days. Having a daddy who’d previously attended, ditto.
My own uni was not free of sexism though. One of our gynae consultants told us he was delighted at the rising number of female students as it meant “more women for us to sleep with”. Slimy creep.

RoyalCorgi Mon 10-Feb-20 13:21:53

Stories like those from nettie and Babdoc are really outrageous. The stuff women had to put up with back then. Not to mention the effect on patients of being treated by doctors who didn't have a particular aptitude for medicine but were accepted because they were a) male b) played rugby. It's amazing that there was ever a time when people thought these were desirable attributes for becoming a doctor.

testing987654321 Mon 10-Feb-20 13:31:55

Decades later, that child's disbelieving sense of horror that a man would withhold money from his wife still flares up in me whenever I come across this situation.

And why I was so horrified when they stopped CB for higher earners. You still get financial abuse in wealthy families, the money should still go direct to women no question.

stumbledin Mon 10-Feb-20 14:54:44

There is a thread on telly addicts about this episode but not making these points.

But it is maybe hard to remember how many laws and rules there were that actually stopped women fully participating. As well as social attitudes. I was told it wasn't worth educating girls after 16 as they just got married, so why not take a typing course!

But I do think Endeavour, like others eg George Gently and Granchester make the heros talk and have attitudes that just weren't expressed at that time, not only about women, but homosexuality, race and so on.

I always thought Morse was if not an actual misogynist, fairly contemptuous of women unless they fulfilled some old fashioned notion of art and beauty.

Had to say I laughed outloud when the one woman who was name checked at the Oxford Women's Conference was Sally Alexander, as I was aware of her marriage to John Thaw, but hadn't realised until I saw a newspaper article that it was Sally's granddaughter playing her.

A bit to precious for me, but I know people like the in jokes that tv makers add in long running series.

There are a number of events in Oxford to celebrate the conference held in 1970 now known as the first National Women's Liberation Conference, although the spontaneous meeting of women at Essex University in 1968 in response to the sexism of the Revolutionary Festival should reallly be acknowledged as being that.

Short history of Oxford Conference (note the men against sexism running the creche - how young and niave!)

And Sheila Rowbotham's memories of the events in Essex

And re her comments about mothers in the early days of women's liberation, it is worth remembering that the first local women's group was set up by the Two O'clock Club, a sort of mother's and toddlers group in Peckham, ie it grew out of women's lived experience.

Beware the re-writing of women's history which tries to centre academics and writers as being the origins of the politics. WLM was based on the lived experience of women's daily lives in a world that cast them as second class citizens (as describied by posters above).

MoleSmokes Mon 10-Feb-20 15:17:26

"Set in 1970 with references to women's feminist conference and Sally Alexander. In a typical example of Endeavour in-referencing Sally Alexander was John Thaw's first wife according to Twitter. "

"It's even weirder than that. Abigail Thaw, daughter of John Thaw and Sally Alexander, plays Dorothea Frazil. In the episode, Sally Alexander is played by Abigail Thaw's daughter, Molly."

That's amazing!!!

I LOVE "Endeavour"! I was binge-watching old episodes recently and was so impressed with one episode that I bothered to check who the Director was, the first time I have given that a second thought for any TV programme - Shaun Davies! He Directed from Series 6 and you can really see the difference from the earlier series'.

I could connect the characters (personalities) of Endeavour and Morse in the earlier series but it got harder with the later ones and I wonder if they just decided to stop trying?

"I've been re-watching older Morses recently too. I hadn't recalled how poor his attitude to women was - really quite angry and entitled when his advances are rebuffed. Other aspects of his interactions are so comical compared with how they seemed in 1990. It's not far off, "I'm sorry to have to tell you your husband has been murdered; but would you care to join me for dinner?"

Same here BiarritzCrackers! The first type of interactions just washed over me when "Morse" was first screened - the family reaction was always a piss-takey, "Poor old Morse, knocked-back again, never get's a legover!" Watching them again recently, the cumulative effect was of a creepy predator.

On the occasions when an indecently-recently bereaved widow takes him up on an offer it is just as shocking, "Hang on, one more shovel of earth on this coffin and . . . done . . . where are we off to? Opera?"

With "Endeavour", I love the "kitchen-sink/period drama" of the Thursday family.

The "family finances" aspect that hasn't been touched on yet was the common practice in working class homes of the "man of the house" handing over his unopened wage packet to his wife, who would give him back the "pocket money" that she determined he needed to get by.

I am personally aware of this practice persisting into the early years of this century. One thing that tolled its death knell was employers insisting on paying into bank accounts rather than issuing cash wage packets.

There is little scope for the hourly-paid to secretly hold back earnings when everyone knows the rates of pay. The middle-class taboo back then about discussing money ("so common!") coupled with secrecy about salaried pay rates made it easier for Salary-Man to control the purse strings.

It was a great source of pride that a man could afford to "keep" his wife and wives who did not need to work were as varied as those who did or who chose to work anyway.

A "kept" wife might be unhappily shackled to her husband due to being financially dependent on him. Another might enjoy the freedom to do pretty much what she liked with her time.

A "working wife" might be exhausted by "keeping house" on top of one or more jobs. Another might be glad of the chance to spend time outside the confines of four walls and have some money to call her own.

Whatever the circumstances, Child Benefit paid directly to the mother recognised that mothers were generally more reliable as parents than fathers. For too many women, their only financial independence or even ability to put food on the table for themselves relied on pennies squirrelled away here and there from Child Benefit.

My mother at one point in her life went hungry so her children could eat and saved pennies from Child Benefit for our shoes. (If my father had got his hands on that money it would have been drunk and gambled away. Thankfully, he had enough self-control to pay rent and utilities bills but reluctantly handed over any money at all for "housekeeping".)

I am too young (not many times I get the chance to say that!) to remember when Child Benefit was introduced. Given that wives and children had not so long before that been legally the property of their husbands and fathers, I wonder if it seemed revolutionary at the time? (Apologies if my history is "off" there - I stand to be corrected!)

The blanket, institutional oppression of women seems unfathomable now (inability to open bank accounts, take out hire-purchase agreements, etc. on their own say-so; being required to leave jobs on marriage; etc.). Is all of that "within living memory"? (Again, history is not my strong suit!)

CuriousaboutSamphire Mon 10-Feb-20 15:29:46

I suspect Endeavour has yet to meet the woman that broke Morse. She/they were hinted at in Morse and the women in Endeavour have flirted with flabbering his gast. So we may get to see it yet...

... Not sure they'll drop it. They do seem to love all the creative time loop real life / fictional self referencing.

JellySlice Mon 10-Feb-20 15:37:09

I thought the woman that broke Morse was Thursday's daughter (sorry, I can never remember names).

ErrolTheDragon Mon 10-Feb-20 15:39:21

* I am too young (not many times I get the chance to say that!) to remember when Child Benefit was introduced.*

The Family Allowance (as it was called until 1977) was introduced in 1945. Originally it was paid for children except the first one. I'm not sure if it was always paid directly to the mother, but I seem to remember my DM collecting it from the post office in the 60s.

JellySlice Mon 10-Feb-20 15:42:20

And why I was so horrified when they stopped CB for higher earners.

But not for the families with high joint income. So the SAHM married to a financially abusive £50K earner gets nothing, whereas the well-paid WOHM married to a well-paid man gets CB as well as the £80K joint income.

Floisme Mon 10-Feb-20 15:51:59

When I took the 11 plus (1967) it was common knowledge that boys had a lower pass rate than girls so that equal numbers of males and females got grammar school places.

In my early 20s (late 1970s) the gas board would only put my name on the account if my dad acted as guarantor.

MoleSmokes Mon 10-Feb-20 16:01:25

Thanks ErrolTheDragon smile

Found some history!

Child Benefit and Guardian's Allowance: Where it all started

Child benefit was phased in from 1977 to 1979 by Labour, replacing family allowances and child tax allowances.

Child tax allowances

Child tax allowances were first introduced in 1798, though they were abolished again in 1805. They were reintroduced in 1909.

The amounts related to the age of the child. They were limited to taxpayers (working people) and were worth even more to higher rate taxpayers.

Family allowances

Family allowances were the subject of a White Paper in 1942, but there was disagreement among Labour and Conservative politicians about the way they should be implemented.

The Beveridge Report, written by the civil servant William Beveridge, proposed an allowance of eight shillings per week for all children, which graduated according to age. It was to be non-contributory and funded by general taxation. After some debate, the Family Allowances Bill was enacted in June 1945. The act provided for a flat rate payment funded directly from taxation. The recommended eight shillings a week was reduced to five shillings, and family allowance became a subsidy, rather than a subsistence payment as Beveridge had envisaged. You can find further details on the Beveridge Report on the national archives website.

Family allowances were introduced in 1946, with the first payments being made on 6 August. At that time, they were only paid for the second child onwards, a further watering down of Beveridge’s scheme. In 1952, the Conservative government reduced food subsidy, which had been in place since the war. From October 1952, family allowance was increased by three shillings per week in order to advance the potential effect on nutrition. As a means of encouraging families to keep children in education, the Family Allowances Act of 1956 extended the family allowance to all school children, although the bread subsidy was abolished. In 1961, Cabinet agreed that the majority of apprentices be excluded from the family allowance provisions, but dismissed proposals that family allowance for the second child be abolished. Family allowance provisions therefore remained intact in the Family Allowances and National Insurance Act of 1962.

Believing family allowance was not widely supported among its constituency, the Labour government of 1964 was unenthusiastic about the issue. However, in 1966, pressure groups (especially the Child Poverty Action Group) forced it to address family allowance. Cabinet debated the respective merits of an increase in the existing family allowance, or a new means-tested family supplement that was supported by the Chancellor, James Callaghan.

Following the Conservative electoral victory in 1970, Sir Keith Joseph introduced Family Income Supplement (FIS). It was designed to replace further increases in family allowance with a means-tested supplement for the poorest families, and was in some ways similar to the scheme devised by Callaghan under Labour. There was a low take-up rate of FIS, which proved unpopular, especially as it was accompanied by the withdrawal of subsidised milk for children.

Child benefit

Back in power, Labour had originally intended to merge family allowances and child tax allowances in the new benefit called child benefit in the mid 1970s, but under financial pressure decided to abandon these plans. Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) was instrumental in ‘changing their minds’ and in 1975 the child benefit bill was enacted. The bill replaced family allowance with a benefit for each child, which was paid to the mothers. The act was not implemented immediately because of the economic crisis of the mid-1970s. Eventually, child benefit was phased in from 1977 to 1979.

In 1984, there was a major social security review, announced by the Conservative government and leading to a Social Security Act in 1986, with a new system being introduced in 1988. Many supporters of child benefit believed that it might be abolished, means-tested, or taxed. CPAG was the catalyst behind the formation in 1985 of Save Child Benefit, a grouping of originally about sixty organisations, ranging from women’s organisations to trades unions and from churches to children’s charities. In the event, as a result of campaigns by Save Child Benefit and others, child benefit was retained.

Many proposals were put forward to restructure, reduce or radically change child benefit. But in 1990 the Prime Minister, John Major, declared that child benefit ‘is and will remain a strong element in our policies for family support’. He restructured child benefit, to introduce a higher rate for the first or eldest eligible child.

In July 1998, the Labour government abolished one parent benefit (the addition to child benefit for lone parents, originally introduced in 1976). They did this by incorporating one parent benefit into the main child benefit rates. It was abolished for new claimants and existing claims were frozen. Between April 1997 and April 2003, the rate of child benefit for the first child increased by 25.3 per cent and the rate for subsequent children by 3.1 per cent in real terms. Most of this increase took place in 1999 for the first/eldest eligible child and coincided with the administration of child benefit moving from Social Security to the Inland Revenue, which has now become HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

In 2004, the Government introduced new immigration rules, which now mean that someone has to have a ‘right to reside’ in the UK in order to be able to claim child benefit, therefore excluding many migrants from entitlement.

Under the Child Benefit Act 2005, child benefit is now available for young people completing a course which they started before their nineteenth birthday (up to age 20). Those in specific unwaged training programmes are also eligible. These reforms rectified long-standing anomalies.

Recouping child benefit from higher rate taxpayers

Neither the Conservative nor the Liberal Democrat General Election manifestos mentioned Child Benefit. However, in his speech to the Conservative Party conference on 6 October 2009, the then Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, had said:

We will preserve child benefit, winter fuel payments and free TV licenses. They are valued by millions.

In his Budget speech on 22 June 2010, the Chancellor said that the Government had had to take a “difficult decision” about child benefit:

I have received many proposals about this benefit. Some have suggested that we means-test it; others that we tax it. All these proposals involve issues of fairness.

The benefit is usually claimed by the mother. To tax it would mean that working mothers received less than the non-working partner of higher earners. To means-test it, we would have to create a massively complex new system to assess household incomes. I do not propose to do those things. I know that many working people feel that their child benefit is the one thing that they get without asking from the state. So instead, to control costs, we have decided to freeze child benefit for the next three years. This is a tough decision, but I believe that it strikes the right balance between keeping intact this popular universal benefit, while ensuring that everyone across the income scale makes a contribution to helping our country reduce its debts.

In his speech to the Conservative Party conference on 4 October, Mr Osborne announced that child benefit would also be withdrawn from higher rate taxpayers:

We still pay over a billion pounds a year in child benefit to higher rate taxpayers. Believe me, I understand that most higher rate taxpayers are not the super-rich. But a system that taxes working people at high rates only to give it back in child benefit is very difficult to justify at a time like this.

And it's very difficult to justify taxing people on low incomes to pay for the child benefit of those earning so much more than them. These days we've really got to focus the resources where they are most needed. We've got to be tough but fair. That's why we will withdraw child benefit from households with a higher rate taxpayer.

Child benefit would continue to be paid for all children, but would be clawed back from families containing a higher rate taxpayer from 2013. HMRC would implement the policy “through the existing PAYE and Self-Assessment structure.

The announcement provoked strong reactions in certain sections of the media. Particular attention was focused on the perceived anomaly whereby single earner couples earning just over the higher rate tax threshold would have their child benefit clawed back, while dual earner couples each earning just below the threshold would keep the full amount.

The Spending Review published on 20 October 2010 confirmed that child benefit would be withdrawn from families with at least one adult paying higher rate income tax, from January 2013.

The Spending Review estimates that the clawback of child benefit from higher rate taxpayers will yield savings of £2.5 billion a year by 2014-15 – considerably more than the previously announced figure of £1 billion. The latest estimate takes into account losses due to “possible tax planning” and “non-compliance”, estimated at £280 million a year and £60 million respectively for the first full year (2013-14).


Dreamprincess Mon 10-Feb-20 16:04:14

Its weird reading the comments and remembering what life was like for women back then. However, a small memory for you. It was commonplace for girls to dress similarly to their mothers signifying their move from teenage to adulthood. Then the sixties and the availability of the pill put pay to all that and mini skirts, hot pants and similar clothes were de rigueur.

But that is all I can tell you - as the saying goes - if you remember the sixties you weren't there...……..

BercowsFlyingFlamingo Mon 10-Feb-20 16:57:03

I have trouble connecting the young Morse of Endeavour with the Morse of the 90s. But there's 30 years for him to turn into the older Morse we knew and loved. No one is the same 30 years later in life, especially after all those murders and women!

stumbledin Mon 10-Feb-20 17:51:32

Well in fact it is only 17 years away, as I thought the original Morse had started in the 70s so how were they able to take Endeavour into 1970.

But apparently it started in 1987 so there is 17 years for him to become more reactionary, but more social.

They were much more about class. Morse was an outsider as an Oxford student but he was just as sneering of Lewis and his lack of education and interest in "proper" music.

In fact wasn't the woman who supposedly broke his heart the daughter of some upper class family. They got engaged. The family intervened. And she then married some toff. Then during a murder investigation there she was, widowed and saying please forgive me. He ended up snubbing her or ... ?? In fact wasn't this why he left Oxford and joined the police.

BercowsFlyingFlamingo Mon 10-Feb-20 17:59:55

Susan, I believe, was the woman who broke his heart.

Goosefoot Mon 10-Feb-20 19:36:35

Yes, I was surprised to at the amount of time he spent asking people on dates. Particularly the newly widowed.

I actually have mixed feelings about Morse and women though. I don't think he despises them more than he does anyone else, but he does have a genteel view of them. There is an episode where he has a rather unfortunate interaction with younger police woman that I thought was interesting, she's quite incensed that, from her point of view, he thinks women are in need of some sort of protection.
But that was very much the late 80's early 90's "women are just the same as men" view that possibly contributed the confusion we have now. So I find it interesting to look back on that period and think about that.

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