Had a great day with F on Thursday as she was in super-cute mood which was nice as sometimes I get to the end of a Thursday and I think she’s just looking at me grumpily thinking: “Hmm, it’s more fun at nursery, Dad, bit of feedback for you – be better!”
The day was enhanced further by my lunch-time companion Lauren Laverne being joined by my hero and inspiration, Caitlin Moran, who was plugging her new book, Moranifesto, in which she pulls various recent columns into a unifying political thread and urges other ‘ordinary’ people to throw caution to the wind and come up with their own political treatise.
I felt empowered.
I thrust F into the buggy and headed off in search of the opus. Unfortunately the library’s copy doesn’t arrive for a few weeks and as I haven’t yet fully trained F in the art of “leaning over, picking up a massive hardback and hiding it under her blanket while Dad pretends to be interested in the romantic fiction section of Waterstones”, I had to fork out £17 for the bloody thing.
Not to worry as I’m a pretty careful reader and reckon I’ll be able to gift it on when I’ve read it as a belated Mother-in-law Day present. I’ll take off the discount sticker from the front and she’ll think I spent £20 on it too – bonus. [You’re not still reading this nonsense are you, J?]
So I speed-read it (should that be sped-read it? I think “sp-read it” sounds better, almost onomatopoeic, I’ll go with that).
It didn’t take long to sp-read it to be fair as I’ve read most of Caitlin’s columns before so was just flicking through trying to find the new bits. Took me back 30 years in a flash when, as a 14 year old boy, I sp-read James Herbert’s “The Rats” to get to the ‘good’ bits (pages 96 and 189 from memory).
So what do I think?
To be honest, it’s slightly dispiriting as an amateur / amateurish writer. I feel like a young 100m runner who’s just broken 11 seconds for the first time, watching Usain Bolt in training waltz past me without breaking a sweat. It all feels a bit unattainable.
Since I’ve started writing a bit, I’ve viewed opinion and comment pieces through a slightly different lens, thinking to myself “Oh, I like what they’ve done there” and even occasionally, “I wouldn’t have done it like that.” Some give me hope that I’m not THAT bad.
Ms Moran on the other hand is like Beiber’s last album – all killer, no filler – laugh out loud funny, smart as you like, often emotional and always thought-provoking (I still have her ‘life-hoarders’ piece from about a month ago running round my head.)
[If that review doesn’t get me a retweet nothing will!]
Dispiriting but still inspiring. It’s only words on a page after all and my spelling’s pretty good! An infinite number of monkeys and all that.
So I listened to her call to arms and have developed my own political plan.
In keeping with the (inappropriate) thinking from my most recent blog, I have called it:
In the same way that Caitlin believes that capitalism needs an upgrade, I believe that the gender equality debate needs one too as the key messages haven’t really moved on since the days of Pankhurst other than it’s now a lot easier for loads more people to shout about, and get angry about, those same old messages on Twitter.
Step 1 – Engagement
First, I reckon it’s going to be easier if everyone’s behind the cause rather than merely some of half of the population, and the occasional oddball like me.
We need to learn the lessons from the chuggers and purveyors of random products on high streets up and down the country and start the conversation by asking a question that one is likely to say yes to.
By way of example, these are questions I have been asked wandering through my local town centre this week:
“Sir, do you like cats?” “Er, no, more of a dog man actually ”
“Fancy coming in for coffee, Sir?” “I don’t like coffee, I’m afraid”
“Does your son dribble much?” “SHE’S A FUCKING GIRL, I JUST DRESS HER IN BLUE!”
“Excuse me, do you want to be happier?” “Um, I guess so, but I’m picking up my daughter from nursery.”
“Do you want to be able to fly….fly I say, fly like a bird?” “WTF!? Sorry, would love to help but I have a train to catch.”
In my view, as I’ve wanged on about for a while now, I believe gender equality is key to improving society in many different ways but I feel that the “feminist” debate is stuck in a rut – standing still outside a train station rattling a bucket. They may get the odd male contribution (I signed up for #HeforShe for example) but it will be limited.
I fear that most men, and some women, upon hearing the increasing feminist noise from social media and the more mainstream press about how one “must engage, contribute, be better etc for the good of society and for women’s rights” no longer hear the words and, like the dog in the famous Gary Larson cartoon, actually just hear “Blah,blah, blah, blah, women’s rights, blah” and come out with the standard Pavlovian response of “Sorry, would love to help but I have a train to catch”.
Men need to be engaged and the Stanifesto reaches out to to male half of the population by asking the following questions:
“Do you want this country to have faster economic growth?”
“Do you want to spend more time with your family?”
“Do you want better sex?”
“Do you want to reduce the chances of you killing your wife or committing suicide?”
“Do you want to be able to fly….fly I say, fly like a bird?”
Then come with me, let’s have a chat, join my gang…..there’s free coffee too.
Step 2 – The plan
If it’s good enough for Moran, then it’s good enough for me, so I’ve rummaged though my blogs to-date to pull together the key points of my Stanifesto – even added handy links in case you missed the full genius (sic) of the arguments first time around:
- Make childcare cheaper, enhance paternity pay and please give the “Breast is Best” malarkey a rest (HERE)
- Journalists – don’t ask a question of a woman that you would not ask of a man….or face being punched in the face (HERE)
- Don’t call your mum a racist (HERE)
- Sport stars, actors, musicians – don’t flirt outrageously with your interviewer, they are just doing their job and it makes them uncomfortable….unless it’s Steve Jones – he likes it (HERE)
- Head teachers and others in positions of influence – stop telling girls that they can’t have it all (HERE)
- Solobromance is not a euphemism for masturbation (HERE)
- Clifford Chance – get a grip – the target for female partners in law firms should be 50% not 30% (HERE)
- Guess Who is a great game but being female isn’t the same as having a beard! (HERE)
- Perseverance is the key – keep hassling people to try to make a difference until you’re left with no option other than to drive off a bridge with your girlfriend tied up in the back of your car (HERE)
That should be enough to be getting on with.
There’s obviously loads more to cover as I haven’t touched upon many of the darker recesses of the gender equality debate around domestic violence, rape, porn, FGM etc but I don’t want to scare off all the new guys immediately.
However, there’ll be plenty of that to come and if you can’t be bothered to read this week-in, week-out, them just wait a few months and I’ll pull it all together in a handy Stanthology.
Won’t cost you £17 either!