Join us for an evening of laughter in celebration of International Women’s Day. Shout Out UK — an independent organisation working to engage young people in politics — have teamed up with The Fawcett society to bring you high-end comedy, with a message.
Women are underrepresented in many fields — from sciences, to the media, to perhaps most worryingly, politics. This is an issue both the Fawcett society and Shout Out UK are working hard to address. If you can’t see people who look like you in power, how can you be sure that your needs will be addressed? How can your experiences be understood by people who experience life in a completely different way from you? And how can you be inspired to reach those positions of power yourself, if they seem to be reserved for a certain type of person?
While female comedians are becoming increasingly ‘a la mode’, they are included in ways which support the gender roles rather than challenging them. Panel shows typically have just one female comedian, if any, while female characters in films tend to fall into one of two categories: the pretty, nagging wife, or the wife’s (fat/crazy/spinster/slut) friend. Women’s stand-up meanwhile is being seen as a genre of its own, with bookers and audiences expecting female comedians to make ‘women’s jokes’ i.e., jokes about periods, motherhood or body-image.
This is not to undermine the incredible efforts that have been made in increasing women’s representation in politics. Last year Aisling Bea, as the first female captain on 8 out of 10 Cats, oversaw it becoming the first ever gender-balanced comedy panel show on British television. This is an extraordinary achievement and a huge step in the right direction towards inclusivity and equality. By giving women equal opportunities to occupy a space so typically dominated by men, other women and young girls can be inspired to do the same in their own lives — be it in board meetings or the school playground. The podcast The Guilty Feminist has made incredible headway in terms of providing a platform for both established and emerging comedians and is open about its continuous learning process to be more diverse, inclusive and representative.
Our comedy night, on March 8, is about more than celebrating funny women. It is about challenging the status-quo. It is an appraisal of all the women who have paved the way for today’s comedians, politicians, and any other woman who is standing her ground and working towards her goals in a white man’s world. It is acknowledging the long way we still have to go and recognising that an ‘all-male’ comedy night would just be called a ‘comedy night’.
The fight for inclusivity and representation is far from over. And it is a fight that affects all genders, ages, abilities, ethnicities and sexualities. We need to help raise each other up by including underrepresented groups at every opportunity, so that the next generations will see that they can achieve anything they want to.
So why not start here, with this comedy night. A night to enjoy life and have fun but also to recognise that we are by no means a beacon of gender equality, and to consider that some people still think that equality means there should be an ‘international men’s day’ — not realising that every day is men’s day.
Shout Out UK runs workshops in schools, PRUs and youth centres to educate young people in basic politics, spark discussions and give them the space to form their own opinions. The workshops introduce young people to politics in a fun and accessible way — highlighting the relevance and importance of politics for all of us, and empowering young people to believe that they have the power not only to understand and engage within their society, but also to change it.
Meanwhile, The Fawcett society have worked consistently since XXX to challenge the status quo which puts women at the bottom of the pile — with lower pay, fewer opportunities and less say. They run campaigns to empower women in the UK to fight for their own rights as well as XXXX
Written By: Beth Munro, Shout Out UK’s Education Coordinator