Leading Lady Parts

A few weeks ago the BBC broadcast a comedy short , called Leading Lady Parts. It only lasts 10 minutes so is worth a watch, and is simply a satirical look at the audition process for the role of Leading Lady.  It was written and directed by Jessica Swale, and boasts an award-winning cast of  Gemma Arterton, Gemma Chan, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Tom Hiddleston, Felicity Jones, Katie Leung, Stacy Martin, Wunmi Mosaku, Florence Pugh, Catherine Tate and Anthony Welsh.

Gender-Inequality-in-Film2

The British Film Institute studied over 10,000 UK movies from 1911-2017 to produce a study of gender disparity in film:

filmography-infographic-women-in-film

Ariane Grande trying to break the glass ceiling

We can’t ignore the new song by Ariane Grande called God is a Woman.

The video is filled to the brim with religious imagery…

  • Ariana Grande is at the center of the universe as some sort of enormous godlike figure, hula-hooping the galaxy that surrounds her.
  • Then she is naked and partially submerged in a pool of pink and purple paint
  • She dances inside the flame of a candle

in a candle

  • She is worshipped by a choir dressed in all-white robes.

praying in white

  • She sits on top of the world, touching provocatively the eye of a hurricane potentially considering natural evil
  • At the end there is the all-female recreation of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam which replaces Adam with Eve and God with Ariane Grande

Ariana-Grande micha

  • There is also Mother Earth imagery when Grande descends a mountain and strokes her growing, animated pregnant belly
  • Ariane walks a tightrope against an all-pink backdrop where you might think she’s holding balloons but actually she’s holding a cluster of planets.
  • Then there’s a spoken-word assist from Madonna, when Grande, wearing gloves that read “POWER” mouths Madonna’s reading of Ezekiel 25:17, the verse made famous by Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, replacing “brothers” with “sisters”: “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my sisters. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.”

However the song is obviously about sexual relationships: “You love it how I move you / You love it how I touch you / My one, when all is said and done / You’ll believe God is a woman.” Ariana doesn’t seem to mind if people ‘don’t get it’ as at one point in the video, she sits whilst small men hurl words like bitch, fake, and annoying at her. These words of criticism just bounce right off her.

little men

It is really controversial to refer to the Christian God in female rather than male terms. Some would even call it blasphemy and against the Decalogue (Ten Commandments). Most versions of the Bible and language about God has God as male. However there is some history to speaking about God as female. St Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109, talked of “Christ, my mother”.

Sexism Against Men

A stay at home father has complained about the sexism he has faced when looking after his daughter. Matthew Jenkin points out that even the names of many activities are usually targeted at mothers only, when in reality a father could easily join in if he wished: “Mum and yoga”, “Mum and baby salsa”, “Mum and me ballet”, “Mum and baby crawler”. Meanwhile all of the groups for fathers are scheduled for the weekend only.

Another example of sexism against men are how the health retailer Superdrug’s website, has a ‘mother and baby’ section but no such alternative section for men. A single dad, Dave Darby wrote on his Facebook page: “I find this somewhat derogatory towards fathers and their children and respectfully ask that this is changed to parent and baby. thus making it politically correct and also Superdrug acknowledging that men can also be single parents.”

The author David Benatar has further examples of sexism against men. Firstly that social norms mostly encourage men, but rarely women, into military conscription and combat, causing millions of men to die or suffer physically and psychologically. This is true of World War I and II in Britain. Secondly he says the male disadvantage in terms of child custody in divorce cases, paternity leave, and thirdly the shorter life expectancy of men as compared to women.

Sometimes the language we use is unfair towards men and boys too. When we say things like “Boys don’t cry,” and “Stop being such a pussy.” Boys do cry and using the word “pussy” as an insult hurts women too. This is basically idealising some hyper masculinity which begins with re-enforcing a stereotype that boys and men are supposed to live in or else they aren’t Real Men.

There is a word for sexism against men: misandry. Misandry is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against men or boys.  Either “misandrous” or “misandristic” can be used as adjectival forms of the word.

You can even see examples of misandry in historical sources:

misandry

Were the women’s waves half the size?

surf sexism

Look carefully at the cheques these two surf champions have just received as prize money. Notice anything?

The winners of the boys and girls 2018 Billabong Junior Series’ Ballito Pro event posed for this photograph which once posted on social media has created wide scale criticism. It has put gender equality back into the spotlight.

In defence of the organisers of the event, a spokesperson Will Hayden-Smith said that prize money was partly determined by the number of entrants. There were twice as many male surfers as female ones: 36 compared to 18. To keep the same money-per-surfer ratio for men and women, the prize money for the female winner had to be half as much as the men. Do you think this is a fair system? Does everything have to be fair?

 

 

18.4% the pay gap between men and women in the UK

10th November is ‘Equal Pay Day’ because from this day onwards until the end of the year  women work for free because of that difference in average pay between men and women of 18.4%. Some women to try and raise awareness of this pay difference have even set their email response to be ‘out of office’ until December 31st!

out of office

In North Thanet the pay gap is a bigger 20.9% so Natasha Ransom a self-employed gardener has set up an ‘out of office’ voicemail on her phone, explaining; “I’m doing it to support those on lower wages – I work for a lot of elderly people whose [female] carers are on such poor wages.”

pay gap around the country

There is even evidence that the pay gap in the UK is growing not getting smaller. This is especially true for young women where the pay gap for those in their 20s has grown from 1.1% in 2011 to 5.5% this year.

Closing the gender pay gap is about equality. It should matter to everyone. It could be you, your sister, best friend, cousin or mum. It’s just not fair and at least the 10th November puts a spotlight on this inequality.

Do the BBC over value men and under value women?

Professor Mark Learmonth from Durham University Business School, has said that the case of the BBC when male presenters are paid far higher than women presenters demonstrates “a phenomenon that social scientists have been going on about for years”, namely “how men are over-valued and women undervalued even when they do exactly the same thing”. On Wednesday the BBC had revealed that its top earner, radio presenter Chris Evans, is paid between £2.2m and £2.25m, which is more than four times the corporation’s highest earning woman Claudia Winkleman.

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Near the top of the list is Radio 4’s Today presenter John Humphrys, who admitted his salary of £600,000 was hard to justify. “What do I do? On paper, absolutely nothing that justifies that huge amount of money, if you compare me with lots of other people who do visibly. If a doctor saves a child’s life, if a nurse comforts a dying person, a fireman rushes into Grenfell Tower, then of course you could argue that compared with that sort of thing I’m not worth tuppence ha’penny. However we operate in a market place.”

Legal teams are saying  that the BBC may be in breach of equal pay laws if it is unable to show that men and women are being paid equally for doing the same or comparable jobs.

What is the gender pay gap? The pay gap is the percentage difference between average hourly earnings for men and women. Across the UK men earned 18.1% more than women in April 2016 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This figure is calculated on a 1% sample of employees’ jobs. It takes the median for men and women, which is the figure at the mid-point of the range of earnings. The pay gap isn’t the same as equal pay. Equal pay – that men and women doing the same job should be paid the same – has been a legal requirement for 47 years.

The gap between men and women’s earning for both full and part-time work has fallen from 27.5% in 1997 to 18.1% in 2016. With the pay gap getting smaller the unfairness is reducing. What is also quite interesting is that if you only look at full-time workers the pay gap drops to 9.4% whereas for part-time workers the pay gap favours women, who now earn 6% more than men. Statistics are never as straightforward as you think!

pay gap

There are other areas of discrimination which the BBC look to be foul of too, such as racial discrimination, with white employees appearing to earn more than BAME stars (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background). Trade union Equity said in a statement: “The apparent pay gaps in gender and for those from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background are troubling.” George Alagiah, Jason Mohammad and Trevor Nelson are the highest paid BAME presenters, each receiving between £250,000 and £300,000.

First Female Time Lord

After months of speculation Peter Capaldi’s replacement as Doctor Who is Jodie Whittaker, making her the first female Time Lord.

jodie-whittaker-doctor-who

Whittaker said: “It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you’re told you can and can’t be. It feels incredible.”

She also reassured fans to “not be scared by my gender. Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change,” she said, adding: “The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.”

The BBC announced the 13th Time Lord after the Wimbledon’s Men’s Final on Sunday afternoon. You’ll see Whittaker for the first time in this huge acting role when the Doctor regenerates in the Christmas Day show.