LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
2 November 2014
Saying the 'F' Word to the 'F' Word

“Look at me. I’m a feminist. Look. I’m wearing the T-shirt.”

If only that would be all that was necessary for women to be in any way
considered equal...not in numbers as there are more women on the planet than
men. OK. Perhaps not in China or in countries where female infanticide is
considered the best method to keep those sexually-alluring, genetically-
substandard, inept-map-reading inferiors in their less important place.

T-shirt-message-wearers are clearly telling all who will look at them what they
have to say: brand devotees (sad really -shouldn’t the brand pay the wearer for
free advertising?), cultural tribe identification (I’m so cool and you’re not),
twisted (and seriously, not funny) humour addicts, obsessive football fans
(since they can’t afford the exorbitant season ticket prices)  ...and...the
politically ‘astute’. The last - wrong.

‘This is What a Feminist Looks Like’ ‘feminist’ T-shirts were on display for the
press. Nick Clegg, Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband want you to know they got-
the-T-shirt. PM CallMeDave didn’t. He refused – five times! As he should. As he
isn’t.

The same CallMeDave who told Labour MP Angela Eagle “to calm down dear”.
The same CallMeDave who when asked last year if he would call himself a
feminist said: “I don’t know what I would call myself (other than CallMeDave?)...
it’s up to others to attach labels.” How tempting is that then? Words do not fail.

If you need reminding – and hopefully you don’t: Dave promised in 2009 that a
third of his ministers would be women. Not half. Merely a third. In 2014 18% of
Tory MPs are women. Five of the 22 Cabinet ministers are women.

The UK fell to 26th place in the rankings from the World Economic Forum. Yes.
You did read that right. Behind Rwanda! Yes, there’s more. The Philippines,
Moldova, Burundi, Nicaragua.

The UK came in 75th out of 142 countries – in the world – for the number of
women in ministerial posts. 63rd for the number of women in Parliament. 64th
for women’s estimated earned income. 66th in gender ratio of professional and
technical workers.

Stop me before I begin the list of sports prize money inequality. Oh all right.
One statistic: in football, Arsenal won both men’s and women’s versions of the
FA Cup. Men rewarded with £1.8m and the women were rewarded with £5,000.
OK. One more: in the Premier League men received £24m, women £0.
Inspiring.

So where was Theresa May when the T-shirts were handed out? I want to see
Eric Pickles in one please. What? They aren’t available in his size? How un-
feminist. ‘Fat is a feminist issue’?

Forget CallMeDave. Forget the T-shirt. Forget it all for the obvious reasons –
you’ll be so bored hearing them again – so forget it because
Elle magazine
asked men to wear them. Not PR driven surely. Actually The Fawcett Society
campaigns for equality and they are responsible for the T-shirt (although
redesigned).
Elle said Dave’s refusal was “very disappointing for Team Elle.”
Oh dear, oh dear. I’m feeling weak, nauseous and repulsed. ‘Team Elle’?
Aughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

What has ‘Team Elle’ said about the £45 T-shirts being made in 'sweatshop'
conditions by women on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius paid 62p an hour
according to the
Mail on Sunday investigation? Rien. The women could forgo
their salaries for nearly two weeks to claim one for themselves.

Typical working situation: 16 to a room, earning a quarter of the average wage
on the island. Even waiters earn twice as much. Each ‘feminist’ T-shirt costs
just £9 to make.

One of the thousands of machinists declared: “We do not see ourselves as
feminists. We see ourselves as trapped.” So. That isn’t what a feminist looks
like then. Perhaps it’s Tracy Emin who donned one. Oh yes you know. The
single artist who announced mothers couldn’t be artists recently. I’m thinking no.

‘I Went to the Parliament and all I got was this lousy T-shirt’.
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