March 14, 2015 1 Comment
March 6, 2015 Leave a comment
Women in work
- In Government Labour reduced the gender pay gap by a third – women went from earning 72p for every male pound to 80p.
- Introduced Britain’s first ever national minimum wage, which helps around a million people a year, the majority of them women.
- Labour gave part-time workers the same statutory employment rights as full-time workers, helping to shrink the gender pay gap
- We introduced laws against sexual harassment in the workplace, extending and strengthening sex discrimination rules.
Putting families first
- Opened 3,500 Sure Start Children’s Centres, providing support for parents and young children in every community.
- We extended total maternity leave to a full year and doubled maternity pay. And we established the right of dads to two weeks paid paternity leave.
- We introduced the right to request flexible working for millions of parents and family carers.
- Labour doubled the number of registered childcare places to more than 1.3 million, one for every four children under eight years old.
Putting domestic violence and sex crime on the political agenda
- Under Labour convictions for rape increased by 45% and there was a 58% decline in cases of domestic violence.
- Labour introduced specialist domestic violence courts, toughened the law and increased sentences.
- We took action to ensure the police, courts and criminal justice system handle violence against women in a more sensitive and effective way.
Women’s voices at the heart of the decision-making process in Government
- Labour has more women MPs than the Tories and Lib Dems combined and women candidates in 53 per cent of our target seats.
February 6, 2015 1 Comment
I have read nothing by E. L. James. Not a line of 50 Shades of Grey, or its sequels, nor anything else by this author. However, on this occasion I am not going to allow ignorance to stymie me from venturing an opinion.
Of course I have heard about it. Almost all opinion coming from women who, in my admittedly limited experience, appear to form the overwhelming majority of the book’s readership. The impression I am left with is that it is boring. This is little enough incentive to this lover of books; add in the subject matter and my continued avoidance is almost guaranteed. However, rather like the cat, my curiosity invariably trumps all.
It is a book about sex. Sex, and domination. Oh, and money. And a fine honed athletic male physique. Written by a woman. I have been told it is also juvenile, and debauched.
I have not tackled erotica. Not even D. H. Lawrence or Vladimir Nabokov. Well, not Lady Chatterley’s Lover or Lolita, anyway.
From what I have gathered though it is pretty clear that 50 Shades of Grey deals with a pretty dark subject. In of itself that is fine – I read a fair bit of crime fiction and this can be quite disturbing. What is different here, though, is that the male protagonist is becoming a hero, an ideal, almost a role model. In the novel he is abusive, and I wonder how this can be positive.
I know little about BDSM. My view has always been that what two consenting adults do is none of my business. The key word is consent; and this is where it gets troubling.
I have to defer to those who know their stuff: 50 Shades is Domestic Abuse pretty much self-describes itself – it is no fan page.
I would never want the novels banned, but I do wonder whether those who are chasing quick and easy big bucks have examined what they are selling – commercialising abusive behaviour cannot be acceptable, even to the most libertarian of souls.
At the risk of a terrible pun, very little in this world is black and white. However, woman all over do suffer, and if these novels at all trivialise or normalise that then it is very wrong.
February 5, 2015 2 Comments
I refer to the Stripping The Illusion meeting in Clarence Road last night.
The main speaker was Roz Hardie from Object. She spoke about the process of objecting to licensing applications and how people power works best.
The issue is not about nudity being wrong (it isn’t). Feminist are not anti-sex or against erotic imagery. It is all about exploitation.
Lap dancing is not a career; the short shelf life and uncertain employment status guarantee that. Lap dancers (and pole dancers, and the like) usually have to pay for their pitch in the clubs, they are frequently fined, are self-employed, are encouraged to push the limits of what they are prepared to do, and have to psychologically distance themselves from what they are engaged in – putting on a mask of indifference, so to speak. Many suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.
The need to earn leads to incremental coercion, and girls end up going beyond what the initially wanted to do when becoming thus employed.
It is an ugly picture, and one that local authorities can help put an end to. I will be looking at our licensing policy.
Roz was followed by Natalie Collins who runs a social media campaign highlighting the abuse that is pervasive, and legitimised, in the Fifty Shades of Grey book series (and now a film).
I was joined by fellow Labour councillors Anne Jones and Cheryl Nevin, and we had some great chatter after the speeches. The meeting was organised by the Essex Feminist Collective, and I am grateful to them for a couple of hours well spent.