An Example of ‘Posh’ Sexism

Posted on June 4th, 2014 by - 0 comments

There has been much media coverage of violence against women and misogyny in the UK press of late. All to the good, prompting hopes that at last a backlash is underway against the unequal treatment of women. I’ve posed the question several times: what can we do?

My answer to that is call out sexism whenever we see it, whatever gender we are. If we stay quiet every time women are demeaned or discriminated against in our presence, we fuel the flames. In a country such as ours where sexism is so institutionalised, many of us fail to recognise it; which means we fail to recognise the insidious and confidence shattering effect it has on us, on our young women and girls, and the subtle ‘women are not as good’ message it sends men and boys.

Let me give you an example from one of the UK’s quality, broadsheet  papers, The Observer.

The Observer published a story about the Australian writer and broadcaster, Clive James. James is a popular and loved figure in British culture; his much publicised illness has prompted a plethora of  articles and peons of praise. The Observer article was no different and clearly the writer, Robert McCrum, associate editor of The Observer, is a fan. Here’s the extract which made me suck my teeth:

His health has been so bad, he has to deny rumours of his imminent demise. His marriage has been on, and off, the rocks, after the disclosure of his long affair with a bottle-blonde Australian model. On Saturday, he spoke movingly about his wife and daughters, as if to scotch any rumours.

Did you spot it? The author clearly rates Clive James highly and writes he has been having a long time affair with another woman, and the affair was relevant to the piece I agree. You’d have to imagine consent then on both sides, yet the author in his praise of James seems keen to downplay his part in his casual use of the phrase ‘bottle-blonde’ is damning. What matters it one jot what colour her hair is? Would it have been more acceptable if she were a natural blonde, or brunette, or bald, for heaven’s sake! For a long time blonde has been a synonym for not very bright, and getting it from a bottle? How common!  And how easy to trot out that phrase to plant the idea of ‘unworthy’ in our minds. To label her in this way is sexist and demeaning, albeit a minor infraction. I agree, there is far worse in the world happening for us to get angry about.

But that is my point. These hidden examples of sexism which we all indulge in from time to time, are all part of the larger problem. We need to watch ourselves. And we need to call it when we see it.

Related posts:

How Can We Stop Sexism?

Women Are Not Born With Lack of Confidence

Equal Pay, A Distant Dream?

Are Bobbly Bumps On Your Chest Bad for You? Discuss.

P.S. Check out RenewYou, my one day course for women available across the UK, in Pakistan, South Africa, USA, Canada, Belgium,Greece, & Thailand, delivered by specially selected trainers. Click on the map to find one in your area. Alternatively you can find a list of all licensed trainers here. RenewYou can also be run within organisations.

Quotas for Women? In comedy, politics, work, boards, BBC…?

Posted on June 2nd, 2014 by - 2 comments

Women make up 50% (give or take a few noughts) of the world’s population. In no country in the world do women have complete parity and equality with men. So why is there such an outcry about quotas to ensure that wrong is put right? We have always needed legislation to push social change and heaven knows we need it now. I support quotas. Do you? RenewYou is my one day personal development for programme, licensed to excellent trainers across

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Friday Coffee Break Tip 1

Posted on May 30th, 2014 by - 1 comment

If you ever find yourself having difficulty in being assertive at work try this: Don’t say anything, simply listen. I know it’s counter intuitive but if you are having difficulty in saying what you want to say, and being heard, my guess is that when the other person is speaking, your mind will be busy thinking (or panicking) about your riposte. Take the pressure off yourself and just listen, respectfully and in silence. Try not to nod too much while

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To Ms or Not to Ms?

Posted on May 28th, 2014 by - 4 comments

Even after all these years giving your title as Ms can still raise a few eyebrows. I’ve been Ms since I discovered the term, way back in the seventies. I could never understand why only women had to publicly declare their marital status, although clearly the answer is tied up with women becoming their husband’s property on marriage etc. Along with so many things I assumed it would be in standard use by now and forms, documents etc, would just

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How Can We Stop Sexism Without Demeaning Young Men?

Posted on May 26th, 2014 by - 2 comments

I finally got around to watching the BBC show Blurred Lines on sexist attitudes in Britain today. It made for depressing viewing. Kirsty Wark has made a documentary about attitudes towards women in 2014 and frankly I was shocked. I didn’t expect to be; I thought I pretty much had a handle on what went on but there were elements of that programme that shocked and saddened me. What shocked me most was a Grand Theft Auto Game where points

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Different But No Less Equal

Posted on May 23rd, 2014 by - 0 comments

This post has been prompted by some derogatory comments I overheard about transgender people following the recent Eurovison song contest (watch the video above). I really don’t understand the antipathy to transgender people: man to woman, woman to man, it matters not, but there is such a reaction to the way we look. Dare to stray from the norms and you’re in trouble, and women in the public eye know that better than most. In one of the department stores

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