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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Honours list - outdated/anti women?

17 replies

Watersign76 · 01/01/2011 21:35

First post on this board.

I am on Twitter, and a number of the men I follow (who are mainly left wing) were complaining about the New Year's Honours system as outdated/old school etc. It just really struck me that it was all men...

My personal feeling is that yes there are probably issues with it, but I think that it is better to focus on encouraging diverse nominations (as anyone can nominate) rather than raging against it - there are (IMO) better things to rage against.

I just wondered what others thought? I did want to compare the number of men versus women in the most recent Honours listings, but it reached 79 pages and it has been a tough day of solo potty training!


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BelleDameSansMerci · 01/01/2011 22:14

I haven't looked at who received the honours, etc, as I'm only ever interested in the people who're not well known/captains of industry and I always wonder why they get a little MBE but some stupid arse who's already well known gets a knighthood...

I do think they honours system is a bit of an anachronism but I am also fairly anti-royal too so I suspect my view is coloured by that.

ISNT · 02/01/2011 17:48

watersign I was going to say - is it the case that the honours list is all men - or is it the case that it's mainly the men who are reported. Or probably both, more like...

Watersign76 · 02/01/2011 21:07

ISNT - the list is a mix of men and women.
However, as certain awards can only be given to men - eg Knighthoods - with women being Dames - I guess it isn't very equal in the truest sense and just helps to enforce old school segregation etc. I an guessing women weren't on the list at one point!

The men on Twitter (who aren't a representative sample!, and maybe it reflects who I follow rather than the general census)were objecting to the whole thing as outdated and questioning why would anyone want such old school recognition esp those that do charity work and fight for a fairer world etc.

But yes, it was mainly the men who are awarded who are reported.

I just wondered of those objecting how many would actually turn an honour down....

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ISNT · 02/01/2011 21:09

Ha yes just what I was thinking as I read your post, how many would turn it down!

Are they anti-monarchy as well? It's part and parcel of the whole system, isn't it. A republican would by definition have a problem with these honours.

Abr1de · 02/01/2011 21:10

Those who do charity work may the ones who most appreciate someone noting their work. I know people who've done very un-glam charity work for years and would be really thrilled to think someone had noted their efforts. It's not just left-wing anti-monarchists who fight for fairness, after all.

PotPourri · 02/01/2011 21:24

Loads have turned down knighthoods, OBEs etc. David Bowie, Rudyard Kipling, Vanessa Redgrave, Geraldine McEwan (declined a cbe and dbe), CS Lewis, Helen Mirren (decllined CBE, later accepted DBE tho, Keith Richards, Paul Weller, Jim Broadbent, French & Saunders, Nigella Lawson.

John Lennon returned MBE insignia in 1969; returned with letter that read, "I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts.")

ISNT · 02/01/2011 21:25

Very true, abr1de. TBH most people would be over the moon at getting one of these honours (even ones who might claim that they wouldn't!).

ISNT · 02/01/2011 21:26

Not many when you look at how many accept them though, pot pourri.

There are definitely people who have said they would turn them down who have gone a bit quiet when it's happened Grin

PotPourri · 02/01/2011 21:32

Ha, yes. You're right. I think Bob Geldoff is one of those ones...

ISNT · 02/01/2011 21:38

I remember being a bit Hmm when Ben Elton got his various ones and cheerfully accepted them Grin

Watersign76 · 02/01/2011 22:42


I feel very childish saying this...but I also wondered if there was a little envy/jealously on the behalf of those men on Twitter saying how ridiculous the Honours system is. I know that is an unhelpful thing to say!

I have been really affected by something at work. We have an accolade (not as high profile as Honours!) that both men and women can put themselves forward for, and 95% of those that apply are men. It has just got me thinking - not sure it is the system, but we need to encourage women to feel more confident about seeking accolades etc.

I am mixing public stuff and things in my head!

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ISNT · 02/01/2011 22:45

Are you in a position to suggest the work accolcade is publicised more?

I bet it would be more even if it were based on nominations, rather than people putting themselves forward.

Watersign76 · 02/01/2011 22:56

Yes, and I will.

What makes it worse is that it is a female dominated industry, so statistically more women should put themselves forward or nominate etc.

It is just really interesting. I think it has just made me very curious about gender differences etc. Maybe I need to stop reading crime novels and buy a few feminist books!

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ISNT · 03/01/2011 11:05

Grin there is a book club on here I think, every month, I'm not sure if it is still running...

StewieGriffinsMom · 03/01/2011 12:22

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fridayschild · 03/01/2011 13:48

Actually I think a public system of thanking people who have done Good Things is a great idea. I'm especially in favour of thanks for those who never expect thanks for what they do - the lollipop ladies and those like them.

I don't like the honours that go more or less automatically with the job, for some top civil servants. I could do without the references to the Empire.

And surely honours tend to go to men as part of the general assumption that men's work is worth something, whereas women's work is just women's work? They reflect the society we live in.

StewieGriffinsMom · 03/01/2011 14:00

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