The Sunday Times: Wrong kind of feminist, right kind of candidate

Hillary Clinton was greeted with cheers in California last week but after 20 years as a political insider she has been struggling to connect with younger voters REUTERS

Hillary Clinton was greeted with cheers in California last week but after 20 years as a political insider she has been struggling to connect with younger voters
REUTERS

Some revolutions happen in an explosion of blood and violence; these are the ones that people remember. Others take place with a stroke of a pen, the pull of a lever, a collective shout of “Aye”; these are the ones that work.

By becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee for president last week, Hillary Clinton once again proved it is the quiet revolutions that matter most. She has gone further than any other American woman before her, and she did it by using rather than abusing the democratic process.

Clinton is writing a new chapter of US history. Whatever happens in the election — and I am absolutely confident she will win against Donald Trump — America has entered a new era of gender equality. The “highest and hardest” glass ceiling — the one with 18m cracks in 2008 — has at last been shattered.

So why are millions of women not taking to the streets to celebrate her victory? The answer is as simple as it is ironic: Clinton is a victim of her own success. Continue reading…

Podcast – Intelligence Squared: What Next for Feminism?

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 1.09.13 PMAnne-Marie Slaughter is the Washington power player who upset the feminist applecart. At the peak of her career — as first female Director of Policy Planning at the US State Department — she turned her back on her dream job with Hillary Clinton in order to spend more time with her teenage sons. How, cried her contemporaries, could she have sacrificed her high-powered career for her family? Slaughter’s ensuing article for The Atlantic, ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have It All’, went viral, sparking furious debate about how men and women juggle their working lives. Having it all, Slaughter argued, remained a mirage. Women who managed to be both mothers and top professionals were either ‘superhuman, rich or self-employed’.

On January 26, Anne-Marie Slaughter came to the Intelligence Squared stage, together with Amanda Foreman, award-winning historian and presenter of the recent BBC documentary series The Ascent of Woman, which charts the role of women in society over 10,000 years. They were joined by neuroscientist and broadcaster Daniel Glaser and Sky News social affairs editor Afua Hirsch, as they examined what real equality might look like for both men and women. Is gender equality a matter of women ‘leaning in’ harder in their careers? Or do we all need to fundamentally rethink the roles we assign ourselves, so that both sexes can break free from traditional gender stereotypes?

Listen to the podcast of the event here.

Broadly: The History of Erasing Women’s History

Image via Stocksy

Image via Stocksy

by Bridey Heing

In her BBC documentary and forthcoming book, historian and author Amanda Foreman uncovers the historical precedents that have erased women throughout human civilization.

History has long been a boys’ club, from the people being written about to the people writing the books. But historian and author Amanda Foreman is out to change that. With her recent four-part series on BBC aptly called “The Ascent of Woman,” she told the story of women in civilization in four parts. That, however, was just a warm-up. Her upcoming book, The World Made By Women: A History of Women From the Apple to the Pill, is the story of humanity from the perspective of the female half.

Here, Dr. Foreman shares her thoughts on the origins of patriarchy, the historical conspiracy responsible for silencing women, and the figures hidden in history whom we should all know more about.

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The Guardian: The myth of a feminist ‘end of history

By Helen Lewis

Source: Ellie Foreman-Peck

Source: Ellie Foreman-Peck

There’s a moment at the end of the film Suffragette that makes you gasp. Before the credits roll a simple list scrolls down the screen showing when women got the vote in countries around the world. It starts with New Zealand (1893) and ends with Saudi Arabia (2015), but the name that provokes the gasps is Switzerland. Gorgeous, snow-topped Switzerland, with its adorable cuckoo clocks and dubious attitude to Nazi gold, didn’t give women the vote until 1971.

For context, that’s after a man walked on the moon and the Beatles had broken up. “I don’t know what it is, but for some reason that seems to be the one that gets people,” agreed Suffragette’s writer Abi Morgan when I mentioned this to her. “I think it’s something about, you know, they make good chocolate – so surely they gave equality to women.”

Although I’m not discounting the chocolate connection, I have my own theory. Audiences are surprised because Switzerland is supposedly full of People Like Us: it’s an affluent western European nation, not a sand-blasted theocracy or a dirt-poor African dictatorship. And People Like Us believe in women’s equality. Don’t we?

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The Pool: Why are women so absent from history?

Photo: Stencil of Mary Wollstonecraft by Stewy on Newington Green wall from Rex Features

Photo: Stencil of Mary Wollstonecraft by Stewy on Newington Green wall from Rex Features

Since ancient times, it has been the practice of the victors to obliterate the culture of the losers. The images of ISIS destroying the world’s historical monuments are a sad reminder of the totalitarian nature of conquest.

The first cultural conquest wasn’t of a nation or tribe however, it was of women and specifically their means to self-expression. In the 23rd Century BC, the high priestess of Sumer, Enheduanna, invented literature. She was the first person to realise that writing could do more than record a contract, send a message, or convey facts.  It was her genius and vision that resulted in the creation of the poet, poetry, and literary form.

Sargon the Great, her father, had appointed Enheduanna high priestess in the hope that she would be able to help him unite the disparate cities of Sumer into a single functioning empire. She more than rose to the challenge, using religious poetry to create a unified theological tradition that embraced all the Sumerian gods and goddesses under one political entity, the rule of Sargon.

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The Sunday Times: Women’s equality dream comes true – 8,000 years ago

Photo: The Sunday Times

Photo: The Sunday Times

As a graduate student at Oxford I remember writing a throwaway sentence about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, being a dilettante much addicted to “unhelpful dabbling” in politics. That was the standard line on her then: rich, pretty, oversexed, undereducated and willing to trade kisses for votes on behalf of the Whig party. Naturally such a person was unworthy of any serious study, especially anything to do with politics or power. If I’m honest, I think I was rather embarrassed by her. Georgiana seemed to be the kind of woman who confirmed every male prejudice about our fitness for public life.

I never questioned my own opinions until I was deep into my PhD thesis on attitudes to race in 18th-century England. I was interested in learning more about Earl Grey, the prime minister who as a young man in 1806 had proposed a motion to abolish the slave trade. While delving into his life I discovered his affair with Georgiana and her private letters about it.

 

The first time I read them it was like having a bucket of cold water thrown over my head. It was immediately apparent that everything I thought I knew about her was false. Worse, it was a vicious caricature of a brilliant, effective and tragic woman. I realised I had inadvertently colluded in the trashing of her reputation.

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PORTER Magazine: The Lady of the House

Photo: Jason Schmidt, Courtesy PORTER Magazine

Photo: Jason Schmidt, Courtesy PORTER Magazine

I have interviewed dozens of female politicians in my time, and the thing that stands out is how different they are from other women. In that one respect they are just like male politicians who, when you meet them, come across as a race apart from ordinary mortals. First and foremost, they are doers. There’s none of that second-guessing, procrastinating, or introspection that holds the rest of us back. Obstacles only make them try harder. To a woman (or man) they radiate a special combination of ego and energy that seems to propel them faster and higher than everyone else.

In the United States, there is no better example of this all-conquering breed than Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, the first female Speaker of the House and the highest-ranking political woman in American history. As she strides towards my table in the restaurant of the Regency Hotel in Manhattan, immaculately presented in powder blue, smile at the ready, it is like being drawn into a powerful tractor beam. When she speaks she’s so loud and full of purpose, it’s mesmerizing. Despite her slight stature, Pelosi has a diaphragm that could hit you at a thousand paces.

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The Sunday Times: Torture porn goes pop

Torture porn goes popLet me tell you a tale of two sex tapes. One is a seven-minute music video called Bitch Better Have My Money, starring Rihanna. It was released earlier this month and has been viewed more than 22m times. The other is, well, I’ll get to that in a minute. It is Rihanna’s that is the controversy du jour, so let’s concentrate on her first.

BBHMM, as the video is known, has a simple plot. The singer’s character decides to take revenge on the man who has embezzled her money. She enlists the help of three friends to kidnap his wife and hold her to ransom until he agrees to cough up the missing dough. But the no-good, lying, cheating husband prefers to let his wife rot in the hands of her captors while he lives happily off his ill-gotten gains. However, he has not reckoned on Rihanna, who succeeds in both exacting her personal revenge and getting her money back.

Anyone who was not born yesterday will recognise the premise of Elmore Leonard’s 1978 novel The Switch, the 1986 black comedy Ruthless People and the 2013 crime caper Life of Crime, starring Jennifer Aniston. But BBHMM is no mindless rehash of an old favourite — Rihanna’s version takes the trope of the kidnapped-wife-in-the-boot to a whole new level of candied cruelty.

The wife in question is strictly fodder for the Occupy Wall Street crowd: thin, pretty, blonde and expensively clad. Every mincing step she takes is a signpost that says “she has it coming”. Having put the audience in the right frame of mind, Rihanna spends the next five minutes humiliating and torturing the woman.

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WSJ Historically Speaking: The Battle to Include Women

Photo: UNIVERSAL HISTORY ARCHIVE/UIG/GETTY IMAGES)

Photo: UNIVERSAL HISTORY ARCHIVE/UIG/GETTY IMAGES)

Since its staid beginnings in 1971 as an annual management symposium at a Swiss ski resort, the World Economic Forum in Davos has grown into the premier talking shop for the global financial elite.

But Huntington’s Davos Man highlights another issue about the forum: It was (and is) overwhelmingly male. This year, some 19% of the 2,500 delegates were women, according to the forum—a number that has barely changed since a (widely ignored) quota system meant to involve more women was imposed by the event’s corporate sponsors in 2011. (Saadia Zahidi, who heads the forum’s gender-parity initiative, said that the gender ratio in Davos reflects “global leadership as a whole” and that the forum is working to increase women’s participation.)

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