Its a mans world

As we celebrate the anniversary of the suffragette movement, it is right to highlight the challenges that still need to be overcome. However, we should be willing to argue that the world isn’t necessarily a place where misogynistic views reign supreme.

Some mature ladies have complained that the old guys like David Dimbleby, Andrew Neil, Sir David Attenborough, etc still seem to be getting the top gigs when their equally aged female counterparts are shuffled off to the grand retirement home of TV presenting. Many have claimed that this is a sure sign of sexism at the BBC, where women are judged on their looks rather than their brains (apparently the case with the men). This might very well be true, but as a viewer I would like to add something else into the mix. Perhaps female presenters just aren’t entertaining enough? Some of these older gents have a certain way about them, call it gravitas, call it personality, which frankly many female presenters just don’t seem to have.

Could it be that we find that male presenters seem to have a great camaraderie, rapport with their guests/co-presenters? That they have the ability to mix the cut-and-thrust with lighter sides. Can women who try this seem fake perhaps because it goes against our notion of them being the peacemakers, calm, more considered and conciliatory in nature? That is not to say that there are not exceptions. Claire Balding is someone I could watch for ages. Hopefully she has a long career and doesn’t get fed up with people constantly demeaning her about her sexuality.

There is one biological fact that makes it difficult to really independently evaluate how sexist our society is. Women are currently the only people able to support the life of an unborn child and then give birth. I know of some very competent, highly ambitious women who when they gave birth forgot about that stuff. They were no longer interested in chasing those goals and instead found their calling as a mother. Now I for one do not believe my sister should have to choose between a family or a career, society should support her to do both. However, this is a very complicated area based on millions of women making decisions about individual circumstances.

I have applied for several types of jobs in my life. Some in the health, education & job seeker support sectors. In my experience the offices have usually been heavily dominated by women. If rejected, has that been because of my gender? Do women not want to work with a male as it may spoil the ambience of their office. I would like to think not but it is interesting to note that if men are under-represented in a field we do not think that is because of sexism. The reason why there are not as many male primary school teachers or nurses is said to be because of their career choices not perhaps down to some sort of institutionalised sexism. Now be honest, if you knew that a man was having unsupervised access to your children (despite clearing all the checks), would you be more concerned/questioning than if it were a woman?

The education system today could clearly be argued as being sexist. Girls are out performing boys in many subjects and are going to university in higher numbers. Perhaps women mature earlier than men, but if we accepted those kind of arguments if the situation were reversed we would be rightly condemned.

As a man I reject the assertion that as a male I have some magic key to do whatever I want in life. I certainly wish that were true, but in reality, certainly in the UK we like to place barriers in front of people who actually want to achieve something. The people in power never seem to represent me, no matter that we may share the same gender. As someone who was raised in a single-parent household, I have seen at first hand a powerful, independent, strong woman. She had to be. I was born under a female Prime Minister and when I reach in my pocket any money I can drag out has the imprint of a great woman on it. Perhaps we need to be more nuanced in our understanding of sexism.

The truth as ever cannot be denied. If you turn on your TV or computer and search for those in power in this country you would undoubtedly come across mostly, white, middle-late aged, privately educated males. So it still is a man’s world. But for how long?

BY: Mike