It’s only 10.20 and already my brain hurts…

// 15 October 2009

Check out this ridiculous quote from an article in today’s Guardian on financial firms’ use of brothels and lap dancing clubs:

Nichola Pease, who runs the fund manager JO Hambro, told the committee that equality legislation in Britain was preventing women from getting the top jobs in the City. She said that many firms were scared of hiring women because penalties for successful sex discrimination claims were unlimited.

So how about they don’t practice sex discrimination and sexual harassment then?!

The main focus of the article is the need to tackle the macho, sexist culture of the banking world in order to increase women’s participation. (Which I think is a worthwhile cause, but simply enabling a very small minority of women to access high paying jobs isn’t going to address the wider issue of the gap between rich and poor – which affects a far greater number of women – that is so obviously reflected in the City’s greed and bonus culture.)

Comments From You

Jess McCabe // Posted 15 October 2009 at 10:54 am

She said that many firms were scared of hiring women because penalties for successful sex discrimination claims were unlimited.

Ugh, most unconvincing argument against sex discrimination legislation ever. That *is* sex discrimination she’s describing. No wonder they’re getting hit with lawsuits.

Kelly // Posted 15 October 2009 at 12:50 pm

What a flimsy ‘excuse’. We don’t hire women because we might harrass them? Uh yeah, mocking machoism might need to be tackled thar. Unless we believe they were actually high writing that. Ridiculous.

Madeleine // Posted 15 October 2009 at 1:03 pm


I think Ms Pease also said that maternity leave is too long. And there are some disturbing comments in the news from a Baroness Deech (never heard of her before) who’s saying the law should be changed so that wives get little or no maintenance in the event of divorce – this apparently based on a few high profile cases (Mills-McCartney for one) which have zero relevance for most of us. She clearly takes zero account of the discrimination against women which still exists. And she also doesn’t seem to realise that if a wife has more assets than her husband, she has to give him more in the event of divorce. It’s not all one sided.

Why do some women persist in attacking other women, and in a way in which men NEVER attack each other? It’s a mystery to me, and I find it really disturbing.

Smart Blonde // Posted 15 October 2009 at 2:51 pm

My brain was hurting at 7.15 this morning, when I saw the daily mail’s headline about this reported on sky news. Then I went to their website and read the article and comments (Why?!) and now I am just fuming. Grrrrr.

sianmarie // Posted 15 October 2009 at 2:53 pm

i heard baroness deech talking about that on radio 4 a while back. my jaw literally touched the floor, i couldn’t get over it. yes there have been like 2 high profile cases where wives have got massive pay outs and perhaps underservedly (but even heather mills didn’t get all the money she demanded. she got a lot, but she didn’t get “her way” as it were) but there are many many many more cases where women are left with nothing. where men disappear without paying a penny of child support, or pay really low child support. this is the real issue, the real problem. women are, on average, left poorer after divorce and men are left richer. i haven’t the stats on me tho i’m afraid. makes me so cross that this is ignored.

Kit // Posted 15 October 2009 at 3:56 pm

“So how about they don’t practice sex discrimination and sexual harassment then?!” – it also kind of reads like they think sex discrimination claims cases are so successful, sexual harassment/discrimination doesn’t even need to have happened i.e. “we don’t want to employ more women because some might lie and sue us” bull…

Was baroness deech on BBC Breakfast a few weeks ago? I facepalmed all morning that day and was really rooting for the woman they also had on there who was arguing the other side.

Madeleine // Posted 15 October 2009 at 4:23 pm

I don’t know if Baroness Deech was on BBC breakfast a while back, don’t watch it. But I’ve just looked at the BBC website and a woman called Angela Epstein is arguing against what she says, so that must have been her you saw, Kit. Like she says, apart from all the appalling assumptions the Baroness is making, who needs busybodies like that telling people (esp. women of course) what their relationships should be like? And to say that women regard marriage to a rich man as an alternative to a career is pure insult. Even if some women do, mightn’t they have gone for a career if they’d had the chance and there had been less discrimination?

And as Sianmarie says, there are many more women who get left with nothing. Heather Mills (not that I’m a fan!) got just a fraction of Paul McCartney’s massive fortune, nothing like as much as she demanded. And that came at a price (her silence about his behaviour during the marriage!).

It really makes me depressed that people like Baroness Deech, who is head of the Bar Council or something, i.e. someone who should know how the law works against women mostly, can come out with crap like this. It’s like every day there’s something worse.

Kelly // Posted 15 October 2009 at 4:46 pm

A lot of women like her at the top seem to have a less- than- admirable attitude towards women. They probably become so thick- skinned and used to blending in the background of a misogynist environment it becomes an actual part of their personality.

polly // Posted 15 October 2009 at 8:55 pm

Imagine if Ms Pease has a pregnancy discrimination claim brought against her now though – she might regret shooting her mouth off, because she’d have a hard time defending it.

Miloronic // Posted 15 October 2009 at 11:05 pm

Surprise surprise – ruling class women hate feminism.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 15 October 2009 at 11:12 pm

One of the problems is that given there are so few women in powerful positions those who have managed to ‘climb the greasy pole’ had to adopt the male-centered perspective in order to retain their positions. Hence they are often too afraid to ‘upset the men’ and risk losing their fragile positions of power. It is called tokenism wherein the male dominant society can claim ‘look all these women are succeeding so why aren’t all women succeeding?

Very simplistic but very effective. Kat Banyard also gave evidence to Parliamentary committee and it was totally opposite to Nichola Pease’s claims. Plus Fawcett Society conducted research on institutionalised male sexism and male misogyny towards female employees. Where is Ms. Pease’s factual research to back up her claims?

In the real world women do not marry ‘rich men in droves’ rather most women who initiate divorce proceedings are the ones who discover to their horror they are the ones who lose out financially whereas their ex-husbands disposable income increases dramatically.

How convenient a ‘wife’s unpaid contribution is dismissed as irrelevant’ when it comes to greedy husbands not wanting to award the wife any maintenance when so many women work very hard at enabling their husbands to climb the greasy pole to success. Husbands remember have ‘wives’ who still undertake far more responsibility for childcare, running the home and enabling the husband to go off to work without worrying about trivial (sic) details such as maintaining the home.

In an ideal world women would be recognised and treated as fully human and male sexual harassment, sexism would not exist but we don’t live in an ideal world. Instead we live in a world wherein women continue to be devalued and sex discrimination cases have to be lodged in order to hold men and male-dominated companies accountable for deliberately attempting to drive women out of the workplace and/or creating hostile environments for female employees.

Women have always worked but this little ‘nugget’ is conveniently ignored when it suits men and their female apologists.

FeminaErecta // Posted 16 October 2009 at 11:39 am

Ms Pease has three children and a ‘high flying’ job, this some how in the world of tabloid journalism means her opinions count. I’m willing to bet that she hires childcare for a her children, I’m also willing to bet that 90% of those carers would be female and and more than willing to bet that, even were they all male ‘mannys’ (a ridiculous term in itself) they would be paid a fraction of what she earns.

Kristel // Posted 16 October 2009 at 2:07 pm

Ms Pease and Baroness D. have the money and privilege to cocoon themselves in denial about the world most of us inhabit. Lucky them. But they do NOT have the right to make other women’s lives more difficult by using their power and influence to spread their denial-ist views.

Femina Erecta, exactly.

Baroness D. also said housework must “get done” no matter if the person has children or is married/single. “Get done”?! Most of us know who will do that housework. And who will not do it.

M // Posted 18 October 2009 at 1:05 am

I’m sure that committee of 13 men and 1 woman will sort out all the issues of women in the banking industry

And the 1 woman is probably an anti-feminist.

Anne Onne // Posted 18 October 2009 at 5:47 pm

Baroness D. also said housework must “get done” no matter if the person has children or is married/single. “Get done”?! Most of us know who will do that housework. And who will not do it.

Housework must ‘get done’, true. But it can be done by men as well as women (and older kids can help a bit, too!), or by hired help that is being paid a reasonable wage for their contribution.

I still wonder how anyone can consider lap-dancing clubs to be an appropriate place to meet clients. It’s not professional at all, and obviously discriminatory against gay male and female employees, as well as heterosexual male employees who don’t think women exist for the sole reason of being sex objects. Do some heterosexual male businessmen feel that if they don’t remind themselves they are attracted to women they might realise they actually hate them really?

Juliet // Posted 21 October 2009 at 1:46 pm

Anne Onne, yes, of course in theory housework can be done by men, older children and reasonably-paid hired help ‘as well’. But surely the point of the criticism of the ‘housework must get done’ comment is that, in practice, the vast majority of it is going to ‘get done’ by the woman of the household, who has to come home and do it after putting in eight or more hours at a paid job, and the man or older children might ‘help her’ do what they see as being primarily her job. And that ain’t fair!

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