As my daughter lays in hospital recovering from a removal of her appendix we have had some great conversations. She is without a doubt a Daddy’s girl. As his her younger sister. I am proud of the bond, openness and love that I have for my girls. I try my best to teach them about fairness, equality and sometimes I screw up and they have no problem in holding me accountable. Like the time I lost it with that old dude who cut me up on Finchley Road.
One of my challenges is that as much as I teach my girls about equality and as best demonstrate through the relationship with my wife about our different but equal ways of living, it pains me that the outside world is so far from this reality. That even with the progress made in the work place, voting, etc. the world we live in reinforces patriarachy on so many levels and institutions that people are oblivious to the fact that they buy into this.
Part of my walking away from organised religion in search of my own spiritual answers was how one sided and patriarchal the whole concept is. The main Abrahamic religions subscribe to a great paternalistic father figure with messages of behaviour and worship reinforced by male prophets who by and large will let a couple females in for good measure but ultimately it’s a manly domain. The extremes of which we see evidenced in restricting education, deciding on abortion and in many cases downright domestic violence to women by any other name.
In the West we like to rail against those from the second or third worlds who are not as enlightened as we. Yet legislation and lobbies are still made to ensure equal pay based on intelligence and getting the job done. In the UK we may get self righteous in that we can join that pantheon of enlightened nations who have had a female premier, unlike the US who we can’t see changing anytime soon, but on so many levels we are complicit in the demeaning of women in so many ways. Whether through media, politics, the workplace or the community as a whole.
This weekend I watched as a tabloid took umbrage to a rather well educated and articulate young business woman I know. Siding with a professional who took umbrage with her taking part in a discussion on tax, she being there as an entrepreneur who knows full well the demands to ensure that tax returns are done, they reduced her role to that of bunny girl. This the same rag that also spent so much time being holier than thou around Jimmy Saville and the list of male predators at BBC yet describing a fourteen year old actress as curvy. Even though the title of the angle was changed it still include in the edited edition how much they admired seeing her best angles. It scares me they do not see the irony in such a mixed message. Any cursory reading of their online content sidebars shows it is full of mostly demeaning stories and observations on the sizes, drinking habits, fashion mistakes of female celebrities. Scarier still is the amount of these pieces written by women.
I personally think it is stupid for organisations to have to legislation enacted on them to provide fair and equal treatment regardless of gender. It should be common sense. Unfortunately too many dont see it. I also think it stupid that so much attention should be given to girls about what they wear and what cab they should not get into when the focus should be on getting men to understand that rape is never acceptable and nobody ever asks for it. I think it is silly that women should have to lobby and fight within religious circles to be spiritual leaders and guides. Whatever your take on religion the point here is guidance and instruction is not the sole preserve of any one gender.
James Brown in his song It’s a Man Mans Mans World gives us a snap shot of how many see the world. Through the eyes of patriarchy. I am convinced that Betty Jean Newsome his co writer penned this with great irony. We shall never know, but if she did I reckon the world in the main is so caught up in seeing through this lens and I think we are worse off for it.
As a father I hope this changes. Even but a little.