Daily Politics Work Debate

// 13 June 2009

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It only really scratches the surface of the issue but you might be interested to check out a five minute snippet of a Daily Politics debate between Anneka Rice, Phil Woolas and Anne Widdecombe about the changing role of women in the workplace. It took place in connection with Anneka Rice’s recent short film for the Celebrity Takes series where she talks about her experience of giving up her well-paid job to raise a family (which all seems fine until she starts making generalisations about men being driven by power and women by emotional fulfilment).

The debate begins with Anneka talking about the alien culture encountered by women when they first entered the male-dominated workplace and suggesting it would be designed in a different way if we started all over again today. So far so good but, unfortunately, this point is accompanied by Can women have it all? flashing up on the screen (sigh). Then we have Anne bemoaning women who “ask for special treatment” and referring to Caroline Flint as a “nincompoop” for saying women are held back in the cabinet. This is followed by Phil and Anneka seeming, in my view, to veer alarmingly close to aren’t-women-great-at-multi-tasking territory as they enthuse about the brilliance of “busy women”.

Thank goodness presenter Anita Anand pointed out that, aside from the unchangeable reality that women are the ones who have to actually bear the children, there’s surely an argument that if we’re striving for equality, men should do more in the family realm (“or be allowed to do more or have the space to do more”).

I’ll leave you with Anne’s comment about a “Blair Babe” who complained to her about how rude men in politics are to women:

…One of them stopped me in the corridor and she said “Anne, isn’t it horrible that the men are so rude to us?” And I said “yeah, and isn’t it horrible how they’re so rude to each other?” And she hadn’t thought of that. She’d taken it personally.

Or maybe, despite Anne’s implication that this “babe” was so wrapped up in her own prissy little world that she didn’t realise The Manly Ways of Politics, she was not left reeling by Anne’s revelation at all. Maybe she wasn’t referring to the usual jolly verbal sparring associated with politics because she was actually talking about her experience of that special kind of rudeness (a “special treatment” indeed!) often reserved for women: dismissiveness. But hey-ho. Woe betide any woman who dares to point it out when she’s being treated differently because the traditionalists will let us know that she’s actually complaining about being treated in the same way as the traditionally accepted men!

Comments From You

polly styrene // Posted 14 June 2009 at 8:26 am

This happened to me this week. There is blatant discrimination (sex and sexual orientation in my case) going on in my workplace. The latest example when on being promoted I was reissued with a contract on different terms from a much less experienced and skilled male worker who was also promoted from the same payband as my previous one into the same job I’m now in. (And is obviously getting much more favourable treatment than the rest of the female team in several areas) It turns out his contract wasn’t even reissued at all, which means I now have a mobility clause in my contract and he doesn’t. This is important because it means that can be expected to take a job at any of our other offices and can’t claim redundancy if I don’t want to.

I sat in a meeting with my manager and trade union rep about this and my manager said “but from my point of view you’ve just had a promotion and a hefty pay rise, what’s the problem”?

Doh!

Butterflywings // Posted 15 June 2009 at 3:32 pm

But Polly, you’re supposed to be grateful for being promoted at all! (/sarcasm)

Headey // Posted 15 June 2009 at 9:38 pm

I’m always shocked when I hear young women talk about housework and childcare in purely female language. OK, if they’ve chosen to be full time mothers/housewives, but most women today have jobs and/or careers.

OK, some are single mothers, but for those who have husbands/partners, I get depressed when the women themselves seem to think it’s impossible or un-natural for their menfolk to do their fair share. When the bloke DOES do his share I frequently hear women use phrases like “He helps a lot.” Helps?? It’s his responsibility, for crying out loud.

Also, so often I hear words such as ‘multi-tasking’ and ‘nurturing’ when women talk about women and statements like ‘men just don’t SEE dust’ as if housework is not some learned skill but some instinctive skill mother nature bestowed on women alone. By making women appear biologically programmed to be better at housework and childcare than men, women let men off the hook and end up painting themselves into a corner.

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