Monday, 31 March 2008

Women lack humour.

Men are funnier than women?
Oh no they're not! Oh yes they are! Or are they?

Apparently when Prof Shuster ( a dermatologist) unicyles around his town, more men than women make comments, and more younger men than older ones. Men's comments are usually humorous ( or jeering) such as "Lost yer wheel, mate?" "Couldn't you afford the other one?" and similar gems. Women are more admiring and encouraging.The prof puts this down to the fact that the young men regard him as a rival in the sex stakes, and to cover their aggression, use 'humour'. From this , according to the articles quoted, he makes the equation testosterone = humour.The humour involved is hardly startling or original, and not terribly funny in my opinion. Of course, as a 60-year-old female, I guess I lack the requisite testosterone to appreciate or make such jokes.

Women and Power

This is a fairly long post - condensed from an interview in The Guardian by Sharon Krum. She spoke to with Dee Dee Myers, aithor of a book 'Why Women should rule the World' , due to be published by HarperCollins on April 7, priced £14.99 .

Dee Dee Myers was the White House’s first female press secretary. A comment made by her daughter of nursery school age inspired the book. The child said that only boys could become President of the USA, though girls could be presidents’ wives. In fact women are still under-represented in public life and account for only17% of members of national parliaments.

Myers is not interested in knocking men, but in investigating why so few women take powerful positions alongside them. Hillary Clinton’s quest for office has exposed wide-spread sexism. Though not all Clinton’s problems have been gender-related, misogynists have had their moments during her campaign, heckling her with signs that read “Iron my Shirt”, for instance. Clinton has also found herself faced with the classic dilemma: women in power are expected to act like men, but when they do they are accused of being unlikeable.

Myers feels it is important to acknowledge certain differences between the sexes, for example, according to recent research into male and female brains, women are hard-wired to defuse conflict. “I think many differences are rooted in biology and reinforced through culture,” says Myers, “ If you say men and women are the same and if male behaviour is the norm, we will never be as good at being men as men are.” She finds that while sporting prowess is considered a key indicator of leadership potential in the US, bringing up children - which builds skills such as diplomacy, team-playing and flexibility - is undervalued.

However, it is not just sexism that keeps women out of power. At times, she says, women undermine themselves. “We don’t raise our hands for promotions, we don’t take credit for our accomplishments.”Researching her book, Myers interviewed a number of successful women, including the late Anita Roddick, who said that women are not comfortable with the concept of power. “They see what it’s done to men and they want no bloody part of it,” Roddick said. When Myers asked women if they considered themselves powerful, they tended to reject the term. “But if you asked them if they like the ability to make a difference, they loved that.”

She is optimistic that younger women will step on to the public stage, motivated partly by seeing other females in power. “Women in senior jobs still represent all womankind and aren’t allowed to fail quite as much [as men], but I am encouraged to see women are being elected in Chile, Argentina, Liberia, Ireland.” She pauses briefly. “More is more.”

With thanks to Sharon Krum.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

International Women's Day 2008 ? I blinked and missed it.

On March 9th, the day after the big one, I could find very little about this in the news online.
AOL had its usual front page of celeb bad boob jobs, fit celebs with gorgeous bodies, weather 'babes'.
Two other mentions of women or girls - Margaret Thatcher's 'hospitalization', and a murder victim. Oh well, I guess it was a bad day.The Guardian had three films about key issues that affect women in the developing world titled Why International Women's Day matters.

The Independent had an article about intellectual women ending with the words 'Women beware women.' I only found this by searching for an article about women in the opinion section.

The Telegraph had an interesting article about male and female sexuality in France.
Maybe I was looking in the wrong places, but IWD did not hit me in the face.

International Women's Day

My attempt to explain and publicise this Day.

We women have it all ways. All jobs are open to us. No-one judges us on our looks any more. We have sex with anyone, male or female, who attracts us. We have nurseries, nannies or au pairs to look after our children. We have supportive partners who share housework, cooking and childcare.Isn’t this true? So, why do we need a special Day? Surely this battle has been won.

This year's theme is ‘Shaping Progress’ and events all over the world are being held today and throughout March. These events celebrate the centuries of struggle for equality and justice, and the real achievements of women. They also encourage women to continue to fight any remaining obstacles. And many do remain.

Some shocking facts.
According to The Independent, last year Thursday March 8th 2007, in the world as a whole:

  • Women produce half the world's food, but own less than 2 per cent of the land.
  • Of the more than 1 billion people living in extreme poverty, 70% are women.
  • Half of all murdered women are killed by their current or former husbands or partners.
  • Two thirds of the world's 800 million illiterate adults are women.
  • 2 million girls aged from 5 to 15 join the commercial sex market every year.
  • Violence against women causes more deaths and disabilities amongst women aged from 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war.

From the Guardian (6.3.08)
In Britain women fill only 14.5% of non-executive board positions. One in four of the FTSE 100 boards has no women at all. The number of women holding executive directorships in FTSE 100 companies fell last year to the lowest level for nine years.And of course, most women still work in the notoriously underpaid fields of health, caring, catering, shop-work and education.

I’m not a feminist but
Feminism has become a dirty word. Many women arguing a feminist case, will begin by saying, ‘I’m not a feminist, but…’ Most feminists don’t hate men, but simply want men and women to have equal opportunities and equal responsibilities. Feminism is about women (and men) going beyond the traditional limitations of their gender.
Men and women are not the same.There are differences between the sexes, but these differences are not so great as the differences between individuals. Gender differences are often exaggerated by the way we dress boys and girls, and treat them differently . Children are encouraged to conform to the stereotypical view of a girl or a boy. This is constantly reinforced by scientific articles about gender differences, and children’s needs, backed up by often misleading headlines.Why can we not raise children to act as human beings first, who happen to be male or female?