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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BHS is Theresa May’s big chance to reform capitalism – she’d better take it

Almost everyone is disgusted by the tale of BHS. 

Back in 2013, Theresa May gave a speech that might yet prove significant. In it, she declared: “Believing in free markets doesn’t mean we believe that anything goes.”

Capitalism wasn’t perfect, she continued: 

“Where it’s manifestly failing, where it’s losing public support, where it’s not helping to provide opportunity for all, we have to reform it.”

Three years on and just days into her premiership, May has the chance to be a reformist, thanks to one hell of an example of failing capitalism – BHS. 

The report from the Work and Pensions select committee was damning. Philip Green, the business tycoon, bought BHS and took more out than he put in. In a difficult environment, and without new investment, it began to bleed money. Green’s prize became a liability, and by 2014 he was desperate to get rid of it. He found a willing buyer, Paul Sutton, but the buyer had previously been convicted of fraud. So he sold it to Sutton’s former driver instead, for a quid. Yes, you read that right. He sold it to a crook’s driver for a quid.

This might all sound like a ludicrous but entertaining deal, if it wasn’t for the thousands of hapless BHS workers involved. One year later, the business collapsed, along with their job prospects. Not only that, but Green’s lack of attention to the pension fund meant their dreams of a comfortable retirement were now in jeopardy. 

The report called BHS “the unacceptable face of capitalism”. It concluded: 

"The truth is that a large proportion of those who have got rich or richer off the back of BHS are to blame. Sir Philip Green, Dominic Chappell and their respective directors, advisers and hangers-on are all culpable. 

“The tragedy is that those who have lost out are the ordinary employees and pensioners.”

May appears to agree. Her spokeswoman told journalists the PM would “look carefully” at policies to tackle “corporate irresponsibility”. 

She should take the opportunity.

Attempts to reshape capitalism are almost always blunted in practice. Corporations can make threats of their own. Think of Google’s sweetheart tax deals, banks’ excessive pay. Each time politicians tried to clamp down, there were threats of moving overseas. If the economy weakens in response to Brexit, the power to call the shots should tip more towards these companies. 

But this time, there will be few defenders of the BHS approach.

Firstly, the report's revelations about corporate governance damage many well-known brands, which are tarnished by association. Financial services firms will be just as keen as the public to avoid another BHS. Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said that the circumstances of the collapse of BHS were “a blight on the reputation of British business”.

Secondly, the pensions issue will not go away. Neglected by Green until it was too late, the £571m hole in the BHS pension finances is extreme. But Tom McPhail from pensions firm Hargreaves Lansdown has warned there are thousands of other defined benefit schemes struggling with deficits. In the light of BHS, May has an opportunity to take an otherwise dusty issue – protections for workplace pensions - and place it top of the agenda. 

Thirdly, the BHS scandal is wreathed in the kind of opaque company structures loathed by voters on the left and right alike. The report found the Green family used private, offshore companies to direct the flow of money away from BHS, which made it in turn hard to investigate. The report stated: “These arrangements were designed to reduce tax bills. They have also had the effect of reducing levels of corporate transparency.”

BHS may have failed as a company, but its demise has succeeded in uniting the left and right. Trade unionists want more protection for workers; City boys are worried about their reputation; patriots mourn the death of a proud British company. May has a mandate to clean up capitalism - she should seize it.