Although the girls' and boys' signs seem to have gone for good - the pink signs have crept back into Hamleys! Our work is not yet done. Thanks to Nick at MediaFox for the photo.
27 July 2012
Chrissie Wellington - British Triathlete and four time World Ironman Champion - to my blog. She responds here to a blog I wrote about inequality in sport.
"This is a really interesting blog and adds to the ongoing debate, discussion and action on women/sport. I have the vision where we have a healthy nation of all people, including active women and girls. I would like to see statistics that show rising participation in physical activity, both for its own sake, and the vast individual psychological, physiological benefits, as well as the wider social and economic gains. I have been a bit of thought to your brain cell stimulating piece, and there were several issues/questions which cropped up:
The issue of nature/nurture. I wonder whether men's strength/power (which normally does outweigh women’s) is a result of nature or nurture, or a combination of both. Are men physiologically predisposed to being more powerful, or does this disparity develop from a very early age? And hence yes, if society gave girls/women more opportunities to compete on a level playing field (and against men) they would have the same power/strength?
If society were more gender neutral and gender equal I am sure that we would have more women participating in more sports; have more women competing at higher levels and have more women capable of competing against men in certain sports.I am certainly as strong as some men over the course of an ironman, but I couldn’t compete with them speed-wise on the bike. They are simply too powerful (eg capable of exerting more watts). I would assume (bearing in mind I don’t have a human biology degree!) that the innate male/female differences in physiology do determine strength/power/skill. But I would argue that this difference could/should be celebrated? Could we accept that women's tennis is different from men's, in terms of skill/form etc, but that we don’t apologise for this. Women could probably play more sets in tennis, or in badminton for that matter, but you seem to be applying masculine values to what makes ‘good’ tennis match. Why are long sets necessarily better? The same with football. women's football is different from men's, but that’s not a bad thing. It is just a different game tactically/skillfully, and that isnt necessarily a bad thing, as speed/strength isnt the only attribute to a good/successful sportsperson.
Further, there are sports in which men do not compete. Why is this the case? Why do you not lobby for the inclusion of men in sports like synchronised swimming? Or rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympics?Pay. Yes, equality of pay is important. Why should time = pay? eg men are faster than women at triathlon (eg they compete for less time); male marathon runners are faster than their female counterparts, but they are paid the same. So I would suggest that time spent participating is not necessarily the best criteria by which to determine pay in sport (linked to the fact that speed is not the only factor which determines ‘success’ – more subjective indicators such as skill, agility, flexibility etc are also important).
Why should men/women wear the same clothes? I don't wear the same kit as my male counterparts in triathlon. I have a bra inside my sports top. The cut of the shorts is different. I prefer red more than any other colour. I like a thin chamois, some people like thick ones. I think choice is important, and that women, for example, should be able to wear shorts if they want.
And of course the media should give equal weighting to men/women in terms of coverage. I have published my thoughts/suggestions on this here, but the onus is on a range of actors to effect a change, rather than simply attaching blame to the media alone."
Check out Chrissie's website
Posted by Delilah at 16:59
21 July 2012
13 July 2012
Here’s some video footage from the 11 year-olds in the Breakthrough gender stereotypes project. The pair talk about chemistry sets, learning hairdressing from a ‘Ken’ doll, and how the Breakthrough lessons helped them see things in a different way.
Posted by Delilah at 21:33
07 July 2012
I found this blog post I never published - it's part of a much longer piece which I will publish in due course. It's some of my preliminary thinking that led me to run the Hamleys campaign and to set up Breakthrough: The Gender Stereotypes Project. (By the way, also check out my article in the F-Word on Breakthrough which was published this week.) Thanks to my good friend Claudia Crawley who inspired me to dig out this post because she's been writing about the same topic.
I heard a senior female scientist speak at an event about the low numbers of women in the science profession. Afterwards, she told me about her blog, on which she discusses ideas for solutions to the problems. I said to her: “That’s brilliant you are writing a feminist blog.” “Oh no,” she said. “I wouldn’t like to call myself a feminist. I have to worry what my colleagues will think of me.”
This is not uncommon – I have heard many women say it. I have heard MPs say it. “Yes, I support equal rights for women, but I wouldn’t call myself a feminist.” I want to say back: “But if you support equal rights, you are a feminist.”
When I started my own blog, people warned me about calling myself a feminist, thinking it was for my own good. “It gets people’s backs up,” they said. So I thought hard about this issue. I know about the hatred of feminists in society. I hear the politicians who blame feminism and feminists for society’s ills. But I have also noticed something else that’s interesting. I often evoke the same hostile reaction by talking about women’s rights without actually mentioning the word ‘feminism’.
My conclusion is that it’s not the word ‘feminist’ that people object to. It’s not even the facts – few people, even the most ‘anti-feminist’ I have come across, deny (when pressed) that women should not have equality. What people get riled about is the simple concept of a woman demanding equal rights, opportunities and treatment to men, because this upsets the deep-rooted patriarchy in our society.
The prejudice against feminism is an extension of the prejudice against women, therefore whatever we call ourselves – for example, equal rights seekers – there will always be disquiet. When I started the blog, a friend said: “I bet people don’t expect you to look like that.” He thought it was a compliment, telling me that I’m not ugly. It’s a very sad society in which the stereotype of a feminist is to be ugly. Is that the only way that people can justify us asking for equality? Another stereotype about feminists is that they are ‘angry’. This is a neat trick, because telling someone they are angry often has the result of making them angry, even if they weren’t angry in the first place.
I have had many conversations with people who declare that they are not feminists. A typical conversation will start with their protestation that women are already equal. When I contest this with evidence and examples, we agree that women and men are not equal. But now the line changes. Inequality is inevitable, they say. The problem is with women intrinsically, not society.
This view is echoed by high-profile writers and journalists, and is a common argument on my blog. “Oh but men and women are different.” And this is the crux of it. Stereotypes and the belief in differences between men and women. This is the pivot of sexism; and the nut and bolt that holds it all in place.
Posted by Delilah at 00:25
04 July 2012
Today I have an article on the front page of Mumsnet.
I write about blogging, the Hamleys campaign and why I'm now tackling stereotypes in schools with the Breakthrough programme.
Posted by Delilah at 15:35