I love Chris Evans and his Radio 2 Breakfast Show and up until today, I have quickly forgiven him all of his occasional sins. I love his energy, positivity, brains and creativity. I really love the man. And he’s a fellow red-head. What’s not to like? 😉
But on his breakfast show this morning, I was a wee bit irritated with his slightly patronising, faintly amused approach to International Women’s Day (#IWD). I only caught snatches of what he was saying in the pre-school run busyness. But I picked up on phrases like; “It’s because we (men) can’t have babies”.
Chris dutifully played a couple of rousing girl-power songs and dedicated the breakfast show to women. He read out texts from female listeners in male-dominated careers. Hats off to the fire women who make up only 5% of female firefighters in the UK etc etc etc. All very well and good, but actually, the point of IWD is NOT giving big shout outs to the minority of women who are “making it” in a majority man’s World.
It’s about creating a World in which all women can “make it”with global gender equality (#pledgeforparity), to use the IWD phrase du jour, being the norm. For me, IWD is about working towards a World where we IWD is not necessary.
IWD goes way beyond patting all us “laydeez” on the back and saying“Jolly well done – and you can bear children to boot! Clever girls.”
He interviewed a woman who I guess must have been a flag bearer for IWD. I didn’t catch the interview until the end, but I suspect Chris kept it light and positive (dare I say fluffy?) as befits the Radio Two breakfast show.
However, judging by the ironic, bemused tone of the interviewee’s final comment:
“I don’t suppose we have time to talk about the gender pay gap?”
I think that she might also have been rolling her eyes at the Radio 2 breakfast show’s take on IWD. I don’t suppose the “gender pay gap” is a phrase that has crossed Chris’s lips too many times!
I think I’d try to explain to him that IWD is not about us ladies having our own special day to give us a “well-deserved” pat on the back. It’s not just because we are the fairer sex capable of bearing children. I’d try to tell Chris that IWD isn’t actually an after-thought or nifty add-on to Mother’s Day when we get a bunch of daffs and a slap-up Special Mothers’ Day Sunday Lunch at the local Chef & Brewer.
All of these issues are just a handful of reasons why IWD is still necessary. But IWD is also necessary for a multitude of more mundane reasons, played out every single day in millions of women’s lives here in the “enlightened” Western World:
You may well suspect that you know the woman pressing redial. I couldn’t possibly comment.
But it doesn’t actually matter who that woman is. It is simply a very ordinary and very common example. Ask any woman and chances are she’ll have her own variation on one of the above stories!
So do you think that IWD is necessary?
Or is it another one of those feminist creations (100 years old today) that men have to quietly endure? Perhaps you think that the gender equality issue is over-stated or that the statistics are skewed? You might even think that issues such as sex slavery, domestic abuse and female genital cutting should not even be focused on gender.
If, like me, you think that IWD IS necessary, not just as a symbolic day, but as the helm of the movement for gender parity, then I invite you to pledge your support for gender parity.
You can pledge for parity via the IWD website here.
Pledge for parity and one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, we will both agree that IWD is NOT necessary. And one day, Chris Evans will never again have to play Sister Sledge on his 8th March Breakfast Show.