Women-only swimming sessions are a bit like being at Whites’ or the Garrick club only with a lot more moving and shaking. Photo: Getty
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Rumbled! What life for women is really like

With a lifetime of free drinks, doors held open and watching Loose Women, women have got it made. Oh wait, no.

Recently on Twitter I was distracted by the mention of Loose Women. It’s hard not to be. Every feminist worships at the altar of this lunchtime show in which ALL the regular panel members are WOMEN. I haven’t watched it in years but I know that, whenever I’m in doubt as to whether the feminist vision has been realised, I think of Loose Women and know that all’s well in the world. That Carol who was once married to Chris Evans, and the one who played thingy in Coronation Street, and the singer my dad liked on Cruise Ship — don’t worry, sisters, whatever the problem, they’ll have your back.  

Of course, I shouldn’t be too open about this. After all, as a feminist, it’s important to have something to moan about, otherwise where would we be? Hence I like to pretend that, in a world in which unequal pay, unequal access to education, a lack of reproductive choices, political non-representation, FGM, rape culture, slut-shaming, violence against women etc. etc. remain rife, Loose Women isn’t enough. Thus, along with all other feminists, I spend my time on twitter trolling men’s rights activists telling them that if the world was really fair, we wouldn’t have Top Gear.

Anyhow, this morning I saw someone tweet that true equality would mean having Loose Men. Imagine! So I tweeted back to say I’d be happy to see this, providing men got to experience all the other great things women did. This was what I got in response:

Doors held open, drinks bought, opp sex lusting after me, boom! Sounds like paradise!

Damn! I’d been rumbled. That’s the trouble with men’s rights activists — they know how ace women’s lives really are. They know we’re pretending all the other stuff gets to us.

Hence, in a one-off, 100 per cent honest post, I’ve decided to come clean about just how great things are. Just to say sorry. Yes, MRAs, you were right all along. This really is a whining contest and you really are winning. Here’s why:

Doors held open

You would not believe how much energy and vitality you have when you’re saved from the daily drudgery of door-opening. Admittedly women still have to open doors if they’re on their own. Or in the ladies’. And actually I hold open doors myself, for men or women. But still, when I look at a man, I don’t see a person; I see a potential door opener (and closer). It’s rare that I check this privilege, but at least I’m doing it now.

Drinks bought

Over the course of my life, men have bought me enough drinks to make the pay gap, unpaid domestic labour, pension poverty etc look like small change. In drink terms, at least, I am paid several times more than any man on earth. I actually have a Taboo and lemonade lake in my back garden, which I’ve been filling gradually ever since a sixth form social in 1991. I’m sorry, men. But cheers.

Men lusting after us

Women don’t lust after men. Not that we’re frigid. We’re just not slags, either. Or something. Anyhow, we’re saved all the effort of this lusting by men doing it instead. It’s great. Some of them are so forthcoming, too, never taking no for an answer. Why be an active sexual agent when there are men there to do all the hard work for you? Just sit back and be an object, ladies. Result!

Ladies’ Nights and women-only swimming sessions

Ladies’ Nights might be fucking grim, but they’re free for us girls, right? So add that to the scoreboard! As for women-only swimming sessions — well, men, if you’re curious, I’d say they’re a bit like being at Whites’ or the Garrick club only with a lot more moving and shaking (especially when towelling off).

Female primary teachers

Or Pedagogical Fembot X09, to give them their technical term. They’re not actual people, with an interest in teaching all children and the right to be respected, regardless of gender. They’re robots. We, the feminists, programmed them to destroy the self-esteem of little boys simply by telling them to do things while looking female. It’s incredibly powerful and yes, we’re proud of it. It’s working. It’s been even more successful than that time we made sure the dog in the Oxford Reading Tree scheme was called Floppy, just to make all dads reading to their sons feel just that little bit emasculated.

Thelma and Louise

A film in which a woman kills a man who’s trying to rape her mate. The two women run off together. One of them shags Brad Pitt and he steals their money. Then they die. Get that, men? You’d never get that the other way round, would you? Feminist classic (although obviously not as gripping as Loose Women).

That is a one small taster of how privileged we women are. And I’ve not even got onto pink cancer stuff, binmen, Diet Coke Break ads, the fact that we are all white, middle-class, cis and heterosexual (so never suffer in the way that, say, the “white working-class” do – ‘cause they’re all men! Ha!). Being a woman is bloody ace, I tell you.

And on that note I’m off to have a dip in my Taboo and lemonade lake.

This post originally appeared on Glosswitch's blog and is crossposted here with her permission

Glosswitch is a feminist mother of three who works in publishing.

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Stability is essential to solve the pension problem

The new chancellor must ensure we have a period of stability for pension policymaking in order for everyone to acclimatise to a new era of personal responsibility in retirement, says 

There was a time when retirement seemed to take care of itself. It was normal to work, retire and then receive the state pension plus a company final salary pension, often a fairly generous figure, which also paid out to a spouse or partner on death.

That normality simply doesn’t exist for most people in 2016. There is much less certainty on what retirement looks like. The genesis of these experiences also starts much earlier. As final salary schemes fall out of favour, the UK is reaching a tipping point where savings in ‘defined contribution’ pension schemes become the most prevalent form of traditional retirement saving.

Saving for a ‘pension’ can mean a multitude of different things and the way your savings are organised can make a big difference to whether or not you are able to do what you planned in your later life – and also how your money is treated once you die.

George Osborne established a place for himself in the canon of personal savings policy through the introduction of ‘freedom and choice’ in pensions in 2015. This changed the rules dramatically, and gave pension income a level of public interest it had never seen before. Effectively the policymakers changed the rules, left the ring and took the ropes with them as we entered a new era of personal responsibility in retirement.

But what difference has that made? Have people changed their plans as a result, and what does 'normal' for retirement income look like now?

Old Mutual Wealth has just released. with YouGov, its third detailed survey of how people in the UK are planning their income needs in retirement. What is becoming clear is that 'normal' looks nothing like it did before. People have adjusted and are operating according to a new normal.

In the new normal, people are reliant on multiple sources of income in retirement, including actively using their home, as more people anticipate downsizing to provide some income. 24 per cent of future retirees have said they would consider releasing value from their home in one way or another.

In the new normal, working beyond your state pension age is no longer seen as drudgery. With increasing longevity, the appeal of keeping busy with work has grown. Almost one-third of future retirees are expecting work to provide some of their income in retirement, with just under half suggesting one of the reasons for doing so would be to maintain social interaction.

The new normal means less binary decision-making. Each choice an individual makes along the way becomes critical, and the answers themselves are less obvious. How do you best invest your savings? Where is the best place for a rainy day fund? How do you want to take income in the future and what happens to your assets when you die?

 An abundance of choices to provide answers to the above questions is good, but too much choice can paralyse decision-making. The new normal requires a plan earlier in life.

All the while, policymakers have continued to give people plenty of things to think about. In the past 12 months alone, the previous chancellor deliberated over whether – and how – to cut pension tax relief for higher earners. The ‘pensions-ISA’ system was mooted as the culmination of a project to hand savers complete control over their retirement savings, while also providing a welcome boost to Treasury coffers in the short term.

During her time as pensions minister, Baroness Altmann voiced her support for the current system of taxing pension income, rather than contributions, indicating a split between the DWP and HM Treasury on the matter. Baroness Altmann’s replacement at the DWP is Richard Harrington. It remains to be seen how much influence he will have and on what side of the camp he sits regarding taxing pensions.

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond has entered the Treasury while our new Prime Minister calls for greater unity. Following a tumultuous time for pensions, a change in tone towards greater unity and cross-department collaboration would be very welcome.

In order for everyone to acclimatise properly to the new normal, the new chancellor should commit to a return to a longer-term, strategic approach to pensions policymaking, enabling all parties, from regulators and providers to customers, to make decisions with confidence that the landscape will not continue to shift as fundamentally as it has in recent times.

Steven Levin is CEO of investment platforms at Old Mutual Wealth.

To view all of Old Mutual Wealth’s retirement reports, visit: www.oldmutualwealth.co.uk/ products-and-investments/ pensions/pensions2015/