Why I fell out with Chris Evans on International Women's Day
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”.
Today is the day that Chris Evans and I had our first tiff
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 parity (#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.”
Let's get back to Chris's Breakfast Show...
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!
So how would I educate my dear Breakfast DJ?
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.
I’d try to explain to Chris that IWD is NECESSARY as a global movement for positive change:
* IWD is necessary, because we still live in a World where women are beaten and raped by strangers and friends.
* IWD is necessary because there are an estimated 4.5 victims of sex traffickingand 98% of them are women and girls.
(Learn more: End Slavery Now)
* IWD is necessary because female genital cutting is still routinely practised in 2016, not because of religion, but because of accepted social norms
(Learn more - Orchid Project )
* IWD is necessary because 2 years on, 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnappedby terrorist group Boko Haram have still not been found
(Learn more: Globe and Mail Article) #BringBackOurGirls
* IWD is necessary not only because the gender pay gap still exists, but also because the journey towards gender parity has actually decelerated: In 2014, The World Economic Forum predicted that it would take util 2095 to achieve global gender parity. In 2015, they revised that estimate to the year 2133.
(Learn more: International Women's Day Theme Pledge for Parity)
And back on the home front..
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:
* IWD is necessary because of the female senior director who has just been given notice of redundancy - suspiciously close to her negotiating a more flexible working week - whilst her male subordinate has been offered a new position.
* IWD is necessary because of the woman who told me that a male colleague gave her “constructive feedback” that when she argued assertively in a meeting, she came over as “bossy”.
* IWD is necessary because an acquaintance I bumped into this morning in the local shop. Now a single mum of two with an absent father, she was tearing her hair out because both her kids are ill and she’s worried they will still be ill tomorrow when she has to go to work and she doesn’t know what she’ll do.
* And maybe IWD is necessary because of the woman who pressed redial 15 times between 8am and 8.07 am this morning trying to get a doctor’s appointment for her son’s injured knee. Whilst pressing redial, she did not stand still: She took out the bins for collection, cleared up the remains of her son’s breakfast, nagged her other son to write a birthday card to his friend and tried to find wrapping paper for the present. That woman took over two hours out of her working day to make two round trips to collect her son from school, take him to the doctors, give him lunch and take him back to school.
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.
You know what I think!
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.