The Lady is Not Returning: Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013)

April 8, 2013 in Activism, Afterhours, London Living, Personal, Pictures, Politics, Sexism, Slideshow

Margaret-Thatcher-Conserv-007

On April the 8th 2013, Margaret Thatcher’s spokesman Lord Bell announced that the former prime minister had died following a stroke. Reactions in both the public and private spheres ranged from the caterwauling lamentation of the death of ‘the greatest British peacetime prime minister‘ to shouts of joy and calls for a public holiday to celebrate, vowing never to sanitise her ‘corrosive legacy’.

With an anti-Thatcher rally marking my first venture into the world of politics (admittedly, I was in-utero at the time!) I’ve long had a fascination for the heated reactions our first, and so far only, female Prime Minister provoked – and continues to provoke to this day. In particular, the way in which Margaret Thatcher came to power as leader of the Conservative party at the height of the women’s movement, yet remained completely apart from feminist campaigns, passions and identity.

I should also probably admit that a small part of me died when I learned that, in 1997, Geri Halliwell (of girl-power band The Spice Girls fame) referred to Maggie as “the first Spice Girl, the pioneer of our ideology.”

So why exactly does ‘Iron Spice’ get such a hard press from the feminist movement?

True, in Margaret Thatcher we saw a woman who achieved something that no British woman had done before or since, and that no woman in the United States has ever achieved. Yet the truth is that being the first woman British Prime Minister does not automatically make you a feminist icon.

Indeed, Maggie herself was quick to distance herself from the sisterhood, remarking that:

 “I owe nothing to women’s lib. The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.”

For me, the mark of a ‘feminist icon’ is one who is equality-positive. She or he openly fights machismo and misogyny. Comparatively, on rape, domestic violence, childcare, benefits for single mothers, discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual inequality, Thatcher did nothing. On top of this, Maggie allowed a grand total of ONE woman to her cabinet, Baroness Young.

That said, I feel Margaret Thatcher is perhaps over-reviled in today’s Leftist press – she was no worse than many of the men before her, or since, or now. It disturbs me that she is singled out and ruined with special hatred, base insults and grotesque mockery while male public figures far more loathsome are treated more respectfully. It seems a major part of her political legacy has been used as an excuse to justify the misogynist backlash against female leadership.

In summary, today I lament the loss of someone who could have been an incredible advocate for the women’s movement, and the equality of women everywhere. Instead of reminiscing about a true heroine of our time, I am mourning the waste of a remarkable opportunity, and am left chewing over the bitter taste of a staunchly reactionary matriarch who cared little for equality of any sort and who had a contemptuous indifference to those who she should otherwise have been helping.

UPDATE: UoB Responds to ‘Spotted’ Page

January 18, 2013 in Activism, Personal, Politics, Sexism, Social Media, Technology, University of Bath

In the face of increasing pressure from sections of the University of Bath community and beyond, the University of Bath has responded by posting the below statement on the ‘Spotted: University of Bath Library’ group page.

UoB Response

Details of the UoB Dignity and Respect Policy can be found here

Spotted at a University Near You: Sexism, Classism and Racism

January 16, 2013 in Activism, Afterhours, Personal, Politics, Sexism, Slideshow, Social Media, University of Bath

Spotted1

An example of the posts causing such controversy at The University of Bath

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 14.37.05

An example of the posts causing such controversy at The University of Bath

UPDATE: Please click here to see the University of Bath’s statement on the matter.

Since first hearing about ‘Spotted at…‘ Facebook pages — the latest craze to hit UK Universities — I must admit to not having paid them much attention. Frankly, I wasn’t too bothered about what sounded like a rather more risqué version of those cute Metro ‘Missed Connections‘ snippets.

Apparently prolific in the university social media scene, UoB’s very own ‘Spotted: University Bath Library’ page has gained over 4000 likes since its inception in early December 2012. The premise of such groups, for those who may not have had the pleasure of first hand experience, is that students make observations about fellow students in the library which are then re-posted on the ‘Spotted’ page.

AboutSpottedatBath

Innocent enough, you’d think — but the page has been coming under fire over claims of promoting sexual harassment, sexism, racism and classism, and is facing a vocal backlash from many in the University of Bath community. 

Read the rest of this entry →

NaBloPoMo Entry 4: What are your thoughts about tomorrow’s election in the United States?

November 5, 2012 in NaBloPoMo, Personal, Politics, Sexism, Slideshow

Today’s NaBloPoMo prompt took me rather by surprise; as a politics student, it feels like there’s just too much to say on this matter for a quick daily blog post. With that in mind, I decided to focus on something which most of you know is an important issue to me; gender equality and the importance of women voting in the US election. 

I know by this point some of you will already be rolling your eyes and thinking ‘not this again’, but the fact is it matters. Aside from the historical reasons  for voting (remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to vote in the US, after many were jailed for picketing the White House) but because the 2012 campaign trail has at US women were granted the been littered with issue relating to gender equality.

Here are a select few:

Read the rest of this entry →

Women – Their Own Worst Enemies?

October 16, 2012 in Afterhours, Huffington Post, Intern Advice, Introduction, Networking, Personal, Sexism, Slideshow, Social Media Marketing, Technology

For years there has been talk of ‘men keeping women down’, but is it the bitter truth that women remain their own worst enemies?

With women holding so few key roles and leadership positions in boardrooms around the world, you might think we’d spend time building each other up rather than tearing each other down. But it seems that despite constant calls for more stringent gender equality measures in the workplace, it can often be women themselves sabotaging progress.

In 2010 Kelly Valen released a hard-hitting book entitled ‘The Twisted Sisterhood’, which revealed that almost 90% of the 3,000-plus women who took part in her survey frequently felt “currents of meanness and negativity emanating from other females” and that almost 85% of those who took part in the 50-question survey admitted having suffered “serious, life-altering knocks at the hands of other women”.

Valen went on to say that there was a distinct undercurrent of meanness and negativity plaguing our gender, and that these secret, social battles are waged, in many cases, by the very same women singing the praises of girl power, feminism, and female friendship in their lives”.

It’s a ‘Man’s World’ – so why aren’t we women helping one another?

Read the rest of this entry →

5th IOAI Article On The Huffington Post

October 15, 2012 in Community Internship, Community Marketing, Huffington Post, Intern Guide, Networking, Personal, Sexism, Slideshow, Technology

A fifth article from IOAI.com has been published by The Huffington Post – this time on their US site as well as their UK one.

The article, entitled ‘The Tech Industry Is One Of Subtle Sexism’, was also featured on the front page of their tech section as well as in their ‘Women In Tech’ feature.

A Follow Up: Sexism In Tech Aftermath

October 8, 2012 in Afterhours, Community Internship, Community Marketing, Conferences, Huffington Post, Intern Advice, Networking, Personal, Sexism, Slideshow, Social Media Marketing, Technology

Last week was a bit of a crazy one for IOAI.com.

During my time at the wonderful GOTO Aarhus conference in Denmark, I published a blog post discussing the presence of subtle sexism within the tech industry. The blog post, which was originally about yours truly blowing off steam and venting frustration, proved popular in the Twittersphere, receiving over 1200 hits in one afternoon, hundreds of re-tweets and even making it onto the front page of The Huffington Post US tech page, as well as being featured on their ‘Women In Tech’ section. The post is now number eight in the UK Google search for sexism in tech.

The responses I received from across the world were numerous and varied.

Whilst making the rounds, the article seemed to inspire other women in the tech industry to come forward and share their personal experiences with me, and I would like to take a moment to thank them for this – it was truly inspirational. I received emails, comments and tweets from tech ladies; some of which made me furious, some of which made me laugh, and a handful of which made me cry. I certainly wasn’t alone in my experience, and indeed my encounter with the blight of sexism in tech appeared to be amongst one of the most mild.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, I actually came away from the experience feeling incredibly positive about the role and future of women in tech.

Read the rest of this entry →

Insight Of An Intern – Sexism in Tech

October 2, 2012 in Afterhours, Coding, Community Internship, Community Marketing, Conferences, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Introduction, Networking, Personal, Sexism, Slideshow, Technology

Believe it or not, I’m generally not one to get on my high horse. Despite being a politics student, I attempt to keep my mind open and, where appropriate, my mouth shut.

But I have my limits, so I apologise in advance for what may be quite a long entry. 

I am currently attending a GOTO conference in Aarhus, Denmark; it’s a software development conference designed for developers, team leads, architects and project managers. Overall, it has been a great experience; my first ever tech conference, my first time travelling to a new country on my own and a really great chance to immerse myself in the latest developments in the software development community.

As with most things tech, the conference is hugely male-dominated – I’d estimate that around 90% of the attendees are male, and around 80% of the exhibiting sponsors, of which my placement company 10gen is one.

Now, this isn’t generally an issue; I’ve always been somewhat of a tomboy, and in my short time in the tech industry I’ve been fortunate to meet some of the nicest people I’ve ever met; in fact, my placement company itself provides undoubtedly the most welcoming and supportive working environment that I have ever had the pleasure to experience.

Yet there are still moments where I am forced to consider whether this is really an industry culture I wish to be a part of- and whether it really wants me to be a part of it…

Read the rest of this entry →