Two news articles analysed….
Louise Livesey // 16 November 2008
First up this piece from the Daily Mail arguing that women over 50 years old are less bitchy than those under 50. So why do I dislike it?
1. It implicitly presents women over the age of 50 as being sexless and unattractive. Apparently by 50 women know how much they will ever achieve (although this is apparently about house size, number of children and income (if any)).
2. It is *so* heteronormative as to be untrue – apparently our first and major competition is for men. Oddly for me, as a feminist, my first and major competition is to do with fighting patriarchy and trying to destroy the entrenched behaviours in creates.
3. It stereotypes younger women as besotted with men – I don’t know about Carol Sarler’s experience but of all the conversations I have with female friends very few are about men.
4. It misrepresents this as an inherent flaw in feminism – completely misunderstanding that it is patriarchy which demands women compete and are cruel to each other – feminism is a way of challenging that. Sarler’s argument that feminism won’t work for women under 50 is completely ridiculous.
5. There is a major inconsistency in her argument – apparently women talk more about men than anything else but lament more for hurts by their fellow women than by men. How exactly does that work then?
6. Sarler is doing just the same thing as patriarchy – for example in blaming her female flatmate more than her boyfriend when the two betray her by sleeping together – both are to blame. What Sarler is saying here is that we should hold women to a higher standard of behaviour than men – precisely the situation she claims to be lamenting.
7. It implies there are such things as “female behaviours” (bitchiness, self-delusion, ease of betrayal) and “male behaviours” (self-absorption mostly, apparently). This ignores completely that these behaviours are perceived as gendered but actually occur in both groups with more diversity within them than between them. Actually for Sarler the whole world seems to be populated by a pretty depressingly nasty bunch of people – I’d hate to have that world view.
8. Sarler says “ambition is an energy-sapping abstract”. True enough, ambition is a desire to be or do more and therefore is quite abstract. And ambition can be tiring, true enough. But that doesn’t mean ambition is a bad thing – just that moderation is needed. This is the same for both genders, however but Sarler argues it is just a women’s issue. Apparently unbridled, energy-sapping ambition for men is fine – presumably because having “bagged” one women are keen to spend their unsapped energy serving men’s needs.
Second is this article on the gender pay gap. My problem here is I don’t quite see what it is The Times is getting at – the fact that some women (in this case black carribean women) earn more than others isn’t news unless you are trying to stir up some racism. Why not focus on the fact that that women earn less than men?
But lets take a closer look, shall we?
1. It is actually reporting that in the three months from August to October black caribbean women earned 6% more than white women. This equates to just over £25 per week. For three months. They then strangely compare this to the previous years *annual* figure.
2. I have no idea why they feel the need to but Black Caribbean in quote marks as if it was a suspicious category.
3. At least the article did quote Colleen Harris, Downing St Press Officer and an advisor on equality who said she was “cynical about the figures…Black women do work very hard, and often they are the single earner in a household and have the whole weight of a family on their shoulders” and they also cited the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s point that half of all black women live in London, where average pay is higher than elsewhere in the country.
Maybe I should have named this entry “News outlets do the wierdest things”?