Kat Banyard on BBC’s HARDTalk

// 10 November 2010

Kat Banyard, author of The Equality Illusion and Director of UK Feminista was interviewed on BBC’s HARDtalk programme.

You can watch the interview on BBC iplayer here.

Whether you agree with most of what Kat says or whether you don’t, it’s actually quite significant that she, one of the younger generation of UK feminists, has been featured on such a prestigious programme.

What irritates me about the interview is the sheer amount of same old assumptions about feminism and feminists from the interviewer that we seem to be continually having to tackle.

A few examples: the idea that you have to make a choice between feminism and fighting racism and these are totally separate issues; being asked to simplistically judge what actions are feminist like can you be a stay at home mum? Can you watch porn and be ‘a nice guy’? (don’t even get me started on the ‘What about women who wear the veil?’ question); that the interviewer assumes that Kat is putting all the ‘blame’ onto men when she quite obviously does not.

Well, then. If you’d like to discuss any issues covered in the programme, please focus on the issues, not individuals. There may be a delay in moderating comments, and comments will be closed whenever I feel like it. Cause I’m in that kinda mood. Thank you!

Comments From You

Jennifer Drew // Posted 11 November 2010 at 12:05 am

In fact there is only one issue according to the male-dominated media and that is ‘what is feminism’ because they never know or even what to know.

earwicga // Posted 11 November 2010 at 10:25 am

My mother had this programme on when it first aired, and my father’s (who I have never seen any feminism from, ever) comment was ‘She’s good – we need people like her’.

I for one find that significant. Feminism is fighting back and finding new audiences.

Iba Brayne // Posted 11 November 2010 at 1:56 pm

“Stephen Sackur interviews…” Oh dear. So what is the name of the actual interviewer, as the BBC don’t seem to want to tell us?

“[T]he interviewer assumes that Kat is putting all the ‘blame’ onto men when she quite obviously does not.”

Yes! Where did that come from?

Maeve // Posted 11 November 2010 at 2:01 pm

Despite the infuriatingly stupid questions and assumptions, it is still GREAT that someone from the younger generation of UK feminists makes it on to that programme. That at least gives me hope. I’ve seen Hard Talk quite a lot, and the interviewers often ask ignorant, pointless, trivialising questions no matter who they happen to be interviewing. Pity they can’t research better, it would make things so much more interesting.

Bea // Posted 11 November 2010 at 6:57 pm

The interviewer’s insistance that feminism ‘ignores’ other strands of inequality and oppression is absolutely infuriating. This display total ignorance of contemporary feminist dialogue in which we talk constantly about intersectionality!

The ‘nice guy’, or not, idea is wholly irrelavent to the debate, could not believe it when the interviewer pushed this, again and again! Absurd.

Another high point is the interrogation about whether pornography somehow ’causes’ the pay gap, when these are clearly just symptoms of a wider problem about women’s value in society, as Kat explains very eloquently.

Agreed, however, that it is fantastic that this programme has been dedicated to ‘feminist issues’, and Kat dealt extremely well with some difficult and at points derailing questions.

Shinila Bakar // Posted 11 November 2010 at 7:06 pm

That’s a typical interviewer trying to rubbish anything and everything that chances to get out the mouth of a feminist.

I always get the impression when race is brought up, without any relevant context it’s like a last resort to rubbish argument. Immediately any type of defence on the feminist’s part is classed as dismissing racism.. she’s a racist.

‘Would that have been asked that to male activists? But what about racism, isn’t that more important than your discrimination? What if black men don’t have the time to join your cause?’

Basically it’s a mealy- mouthed silencing tactic. It’s not about a young writer battling the veil in Sudan, it’s about ‘tackling multiple fronts’ like Banyard says and everybody trying to help and not rubbishing every statistic/ fact illustrating sexism just by virtue.

I find this constant rubbishing of any feminist fact/ statistic an illustration of how casually negative the attitudes are to women’ rights and women.

It also annoys me how feminists have this weighted responsibility – what do you propose to do about the war in Iran? The Veil? Women in France? Sometimes a woman can’t stand up for the sexist world we live in without being thrown down a rabbit hole of ‘more important things’ she as the queen of feminist land is responsible for.

Who is Kat Banyard anyway? She seems soo cool, kind of in line with my own views. Glad such a role model got this air time.

Hope ur mood improves Catherine :)

Hazel // Posted 11 November 2010 at 8:34 pm

The interviewer is Zeinab Badawi.

Shinila Bakar // Posted 11 November 2010 at 8:46 pm

Anyone else grind their teeth at the part where Banyard is talking very eloquently and moving on about the high levels of PTSD in sex workers, how prostiution is linked thusly to torture practices… then the interviewer bizzarely interjected ‘I’m not talking about PTSD!!’

But you are talking about women’s rights? Oh right, racism exists, therefore we’re not allowed to worry about our rights as women!

What are Banyard’s books? She seemed really smart, a legend to watch out for.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 11 November 2010 at 9:06 pm

Maeve – I’m sure you’re right about HARDtalk’s interviewers always being very irritating and interrupting – it’s their job to play ‘devil’s advocate’ I suppose. I think I just notice it a lot more when it’s a topic I know a lot about!

Catherine Redfern // Posted 11 November 2010 at 9:10 pm

Shinila, thank you! I think what annoyed me most about the racism questions was the assumption that there are no black / women of colour feminists out there already, when obviously there are loads and always have been.

sianushka // Posted 12 November 2010 at 9:26 am

it’s such a silencing tactic.

it is so frustrating. we were talking about hooters on an online forum and people had a go at us for not focusing on X issue instead. apart from the fact that many issues are interconnected and stem from patriarchal structures that oppress women, these people don’t seem to realise you can campaign about more than one thing at once!

kat’s book is the equality illusion and she founded (with other amazing women) the uk feminista site. she is a legend.

marie // Posted 12 November 2010 at 7:59 pm

Even though in some parts of the interview i thought the interviewer was not asking the best questions, I did actually agree with her point about FGM. FGM is mostly performed by other women on little girls and those women should be held accountable.

marie // Posted 13 November 2010 at 4:59 pm

i think Kat handled the interview well, i do not think i would have been as nice.

MsChin // Posted 13 November 2010 at 8:49 pm

Kat, with a group of similar minded women and men, is also responsible for the FEM conferences at Sheffield Uni.


Katharine // Posted 14 November 2010 at 11:02 am

I think Kat Banyard is fabulous! she gave a talk at my university recently and was very eloquent. Her book is brilliant too.

The interviewer’s approach, whilst it might have been predictable, was rather wearisome in the extent to which it repeated myths, distortions and generally pointless questions. I’m so impressed that Kat managed to say so much really important and convincing stuff in spite of some of the questions!

Some points I would have liked to hear made in that context:

1. If she’d been able to carry on talking about PTSD (the interviewer didn’t bring it up, but Kat did, and surely that’s allowed!) then we might have heard a case for focussing more on the harms experienced by many women who perform in pornography, instead of only worries about what it does to male consumers.

2. The institution of FGM is structured around the idea that marriage is the only viable option for women in many societies where it is practised, and marriage is difficult or impossible for women who have not undergone FGM. Male control over socioeconomic resources is thus the driving factor behind it, even if the practise is mainly carried out by women. Why the interviewer was so reluctant to grasp this was beyond me! (a great book on the parallels between harmful cultural practices in western societies and in non-western societies, which Kat touched on, is ‘Sex, Culture and Justice: the Limits of Choice’ by Clare Chambers).

3. Whilst what Kat said about working mums was great, I’d have loved it if she had more time and had pointed out the sheer absurdity of the fact that few people sees a combination of fatherhood and work as problematic – men have children too! Feminism isn’t about deciding whether women ought to go to work or ought to stay at home, it’s about bringing about a situation in which, at minimum, these questions are just as pressing for fathers as for mothers, and, ideally, in which this is not a problem because work is structured so as to be compatible with family.

Still, a great interview from an inspiring feminist!

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