Female Solidarity….. huh?!

5 Apr

It is female journalists and writers who often make the most disparaging comments about women. Virgina Ironside once wrote ‘if you put a load of women together, a toxic chemical change seems to occur — one that turns them into bitchy, gossiping harpies, and produces an explosive reaction in me’.

Whilst she herself is being nasty about other women, the point she makes is one that other’s have made too: apparently viewers of The Apprentice ‘frequently complain that the women’s attempts to work together descend into unedifying, shrill arguments. One of the show’s advisers, Karren Brady, has even pulled contestants up for it, telling them their in-fighting was giving women a bad name’.

Yet I have never met a man who talks badly about another man, instead men tend to call one another ‘mate’ even if they have only just met, as if part of some brotherhood. We need to build a similar type of solidarity, a language that unites us, even when we are strangers, a language which creates a sense of sisterhood. I don’t just mean a language for addressing one another, but a language of equality. An agreement about what we will, together, stand for, and against.

A few months ago I watched an interview on HardTalk with a young feminist, Kat Banyard, who was talking about the problems of the sex industry. The interviewer, Zeinab Badawi, also a woman, was making remarks that were dismissive, patronizing and mocking, whilst staunchly protecting the sex industry. Her comments included ‘‘all men are guilty, all men, are they?!’, angry that all men were being accused of using strip clubs. Then, a dismissive, ‘‘it’s a tiny minority of men who use these [strip] clubs and even if they do, does it mean that they will go onto beat up their women folk when they’re at home’?’. Frankly, the whole interview made me really sad. That two women couldn’t see eye to eye on issues around equality showed how far we have yet to go.

Obviously women are not a homogenous group of robots with the same thoughts and opinions. We are all different. But it would help us a significant amount if we could start singing from the same hymn sheet. Perhaps we should have a 10 commandments style list, or a mandate of some sort which we could generally all agree on? Just a thought….





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