LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
24 August 2014
Grin and Bare It

Women make up more than 51% of the population. ‘We know’ you say and
surely you know that they are even now paid even less than their male
colleagues, receive smaller bonuses, are ‘priced out’ of justice in the
workplace, and now want nipples to be ‘free’. Which out of these issues is
unmitigated madness? The accurate answer is - all.

Without doubt you’d rather read about the last bit. But the economic reality is
rather crucial and ultimately disturbing – although perhaps not as much....

Time to move on to the thrilling news regarding pay – and oh no – not those
bonuses. Dear me.

Chartered Management Institute revealed the inequities. You can do the maths.
At the top of the pile male directors pocket £53,010 - female directors £41,956.
Don’t get excited, one step down the hierarchical ladder it’s £19,618 for the
second class citizens - £33,804 for those in power. Starting from junior ladder
levels up to the rarefied CEOs, men are worth average bonuses of £6,008
compared with – sit down here - £2,797 for those lowly female colleagues.
Women bring home 35% less than men overall. How is that possible? Surely
that’s what you’re asking.

Just a bit more. Women won’t be able to retire to a tent in the back garden until
79 while their husbands are whooping it up in Ibiza for the last 14 years of his
retirement. Yes. He officially retired at 65.

Race claims have dropped 60% the first three months of 2014. Disability claims
reduced by 46% year-on-year. Disputes over wages have fallen 70% in claims
for non-payment of the minimum wage. Sex discrimination claims against
employers have fallen 80%.

If for example you have a claim of harassment, bullying or sacking based on
your gender, you now have to pay out £1,200 just to have your claim heard in
the elusive employment tribunal.

Oh dear. More statistics. 1,222 women took out sex discrimination claims
between January and March 2014 compared to 6,017 for the same period the
year before. I’m losing the will to live here. Overall employment tribunal cases
are down by 79%. No surprise there.

More statistics to bore you into submission and convince you that life is unfair if
you are female. You knew that already didn’t you? Women in the workplace:
6% are engineers...4% firefighters...10% in the armed forces...11% in
construction...16% are directors, writers, cinematographers, editors on 250 top-
grossing films in 2013...20% of ICT professions...20% of chefs...23% full
Cabinet members...22.6% MPs...27% are police officers. Blimey!

Time to put the vodka bottle down and jump up and down if you can. The good
news is three – yes three – women were allowed to enter into the top ten
comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe. I’m not laughing, but you can. Well,
actually I already have. A few Fringe jokes:

“I’ve got very sensitive teeth. They’ll probably be upset I’ve told you.” Gordon
Southern

“Who remembers when
X Factor was just Roman suncream?” Chris Turner

“Even the word misogyny is misogynistic. It should be ms-ogyny.” Bec Hill

“My name is Fin, which means it’s very hard for me to end emails without
sounding pretentious.” Fin Taylor - my favourite.

Don’t get euphoric. Men don’t find women funny – or they say they don’t (too
much competition perhaps?) and any panel show will bear that out. All you have
to do is count the number of comedians who are female on any panel show.
Usual ratio: 1 out of 7 or any other number. But the 1 remains a constant.

All right. And now it’s time for the truly humorous – or simply madness. The
Silly Season is all about exposing nipples, naturally only female nipples, as not
only a fashion statement (and what fashion statement would that be exactly), but
an expression of (ha) feminism. Isn’t that what those pitiful Page 3 ‘girls’ do?
And not for free I’d imagine.

28 year-old (could be one source of the problem) Natasha Madani who is a
fashion PR for youth label Motel said: “Going bra-free can be seen as an
expression of confidence and freedom.” No, no, no. Did any of these free-the-
nipple ever research the feminist movement? Hadn’t their mothers or
grandmothers who burned their bras only to discover they had been duped?

Let me enlighten. Yes they and their collective breasts were ‘free’, but they (the
women) failed to notice the opposite sex saw for what it was, literally, not
figuratively...free sex - not free expression, free from repression, free to be
free, ad inf.

Isn’t it enough we are all familiar with every actress’ breasts to the point of ‘oh
for god’s sake! Not again!’ TV screen size or enormous cinema screen size.
Sometimes you want to protest: we got it. People have sex (on kitchen tables,
on desks, on rocks, against walls – do they really?) and the actress must be
totally naked with long lingering shots on her breasts. Really? Directors - sex –
actresses. Well we certainly have heard enough about that.

Be honest. Nipple-revealing is a perfect expression of exhibitionism. End of. Not
quite the end. Otherwise unrivalled exhibitionists-supreme wouldn’t make it a
daily activity: Rihanna, Lily Allen (not again), Lady Gaga as a small sampling.

Lucy McKay of the
Evening Standard thinks “But for most women going bra-
free is not about standing out from the crowd (oh really), but an urge to break
free from the constraints of modern society.” Hmmm. The constraints of
modern society. The modern society that has totally sexualised women? That
constraining society? The modern society that creates the reality where women
remain second-class citizens, objects of sexual fantasy - breasts exposed or
not.

Oh all this titillating (oh I do apologise) makes women look bad and it’s not a
good look.

                                     
   ***

I don’t read the Sun. I have never opened one. I have never picked one up left
on the bus/tube seat beside me. I have never (hopefully) had a copy closer to
me than one in a newsagents’ – approximately 12-15”. I’ve signed the petition to
end the farcical, regressive practice of Page 3. All have come to nought
naturally.

The tawdry tabloid’s treats: “I’ve Got Two Kids at 16 but I’m No Scrounger”...
“Cheat’s Ski Killed Our Baby...But I Forgive Him”... “I Hid Under Fella’s Bed...
as Rat Romped with Another”. No need to rush out to buy a copy, they will be
more just like these tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow – or you could
simply watch Jeremy Kyle.

Unless – here’s the exciting bit (if your tiny brain is in your tiny pants that is)
intelligence-challenged readers who sign up in its Fantasy Football Dream
Team can enter a prize draw for a date with a Page 3 model! Zut alors!  The
salivating lucky winner will get to choose between either Rosie or Kelly – clearly
daily readers will know these ‘Look-at-my-breasts’ ‘models’.

Inspired to ‘go free’? Give it a little think....
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