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Friday, September 14, 2018

Morality and Gender Equality

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Morality and Gender Equality

"[On the BBC Gender Pay Gap] It takes a special kind of tone deaf morality that you can get outraged in quite this way, amongst the highest earners about the inequality between them, that people genuinely feel that they are victims of the patriarchy, that they get 170,000 in preference to 120. This I find insulting to the whole memory on what fighting Women's Rights is all about...

They're all grotesquely overpaid, in my opinion as a columnist, not a blogger. They're all grotesquely overpaid, and it is a distraction from the genuine violence that is still perpetrated against women abroad and in this country. And also from the growing systemic problems faced, particularly by young men...

[On the BBC's top 96 earners] I'm amazed that this has become a story about the gender pay gap. I think the pay of 96 wealthy people actually tells us nothing whatsoever about the pay of everyone else in society, and tells us very, very little about what's happening to women nowadays… these people are such an elite group within society that they're not doing jobs that are comparable... they’re not doing the same job. That you can't compare Gary Lineker and Clare Balding because their pay is not determined by the hours that they work, or their grade or their career structure. Regular people who have regular jobs have to apply for promotions, have to apply for annual increments, they have standard paid salaries… because we're not comparing like for like this, this misses the point about what's going on in the rest of society, because in the rest of society the pay gap, the gender pay gap is at an all time low...

‘It still seems to me that a basic sense of inequality is a moral outrage to many people’...

‘I agree with you. And I do think that there is a basic sense of inequality that's a moral outrage here, and I think that is that the people who are cleaning the BBC's offices, who are making the coffee, who are doing the makeup, who are the producers, who are the secretaries, they are being paid an awful lot less.

Now, those women in order for them to get higher salaries, they are much better off working alongside their male colleagues and fighting... It's a big distraction, and I actually find it really nauseating because what these very very wealthy women are saying is we're not doing this for us, we're doing this for our low-paid sisters. Rubbish. It's not going to help the women who are on low salaries. You know what, minimum wage jobs there is zero gender pay gap. If you're on a minimum wage job then you get the same minimum wage if you're a man, or if you're a woman'...

‘Why is it that whenever I go out for dinner with my wife, I always get the bill?’

‘I have no idea. I think you need to have a talk to her’

‘No, no, I always get handed the bill by the waiter.’...

‘Once that happened to me in a restaurant and my boyfriend pushed it towards me and said that's a ship that will never come in because I was earning more money than him.’...

‘This is not just one waiter. This is part of an assumption, this is part of what I suppose the people are calling everyday sexism, which is manifest, all over the place. You, I mean, I've been reading the Everyday Sexism website today and there's the constant examples of-’

‘I just don't see how a waiter handing you a bill is indicative of there being-’

‘Not once but over years and years and years, it always comes to me’

‘Well maybe your wife should step up and say, oei… bill please. You can say check and she can sign it’

‘Oh so it’s my wife's fault she doesn't put her hand up?’

‘If this is a problem you're experiencing in life, and you’re upset about being handed the bill, I'm just saying your wife could volunteer to pay the bill, and I'm sure a waiter or waitress would respond to that.’

‘Can we move on Giles? I’m a bit fedup of your dinner table’

‘The whole issue of what's called everyday sexism, is something that you don't recognize or experience.’

‘Yes, absolutely. I’ve been sexually harassed in my life but I decided to get over it. You can't, you can't just say, "Oh some man like tried to kiss me’. It was completely inappropriate situation. What I should have done was the next day, kneed him in the balls at some point but I had to do a job of work with him. But you get over, you get over this, you have these things as women. I know men who have been sexually harassed by men’

‘Is this your feminist strategy - get over it?’

‘My feminist strategy is tackle it. So if a man wolfwhistles at you and in the street, you can tell him to - f off, or whatever you want to say. A great thing for young girls would be to listen to Germaine Greer absolutely eviscerate Norman Mailer, who was a massively powerful man, and she used her words. I just think if you are experiencing problems in society as a woman, you need to yourself stand up and say, oi, not taking that’…

‘In the age of social media, isn’t there this new generation of problems as it were, that are there for the way in which women are abused on social media, objectified?’

‘I think men are also abused on social media. Demos did a study study that said it was actually roughly equal... Owen Jones who I'm sure you know, who gets a massive amount of abuse on Twitter, with that I think again you need to survive it, you can't be censoring other people. What they say is despicable and awful and the best way to do to tackle that is to satirize it, your attention to it, make them seem the pathetic losers that they are.’

‘Owen doesn't get generally satirised for his body shape for instance.’

‘Well, I think lots of people do get satirized for all sorts of things. I mean, if you look at Kelvin Mackenzie for instance, used to objectify women in this manner. And then when he was having an affair you have this awful spectacle of his massive belly being honed in on’…

‘So you don't think that social media presents a particular sort of problem that I should be anxious about for my girls’...

‘If they're suffering on social media, just alert Facebook or Twitter or whatever and then say go read a book, go read Margaret Atwood, go read Germaine Greer, go read Camille Paglia, go read Jane Eyre’...

'The danger is or the fears are that there's a kind of trivialising of the fight for women's equality through things like this gender pay gap issue that we've seen on the BBC. And I just wondered what you thought about a kind of what I worry about, which is feminism is now victim feminism. Contemporary feminism always treats women as hapless, hopeless, in need of protection, victims who whinge... they're demanding safe spaces to be protected from difficult ideas'

'Which is really important'

'Treating yourself as though you can't cope with an idea, you're no platforming people whose ideas say cause you trauma'...

'Online and offline violence has actually increased'

'You all know that safe spaces are not about violence, they're about words and ideas, so that's some huge difference that's occurred in relation to women's equality, that women are demanding to be protected from words and ideas and demanding that people are censored and banned, and that women in particular can't cope with challenging, controversial ideas... you've got victim feminists in the West saying that they can become mentally ill if they hear Germaine Greer speak'...

'Why I find the whole thing so distasteful was when the salaries came out… we were all kind of saying God, can you believe so and so got that in comparison with. But it really wasn't kind of like, it was more like I didn't know that anyone would think that person was talented in that way and get that much money.

But what then happened was once the gender pay gap took over that discussion, some of the more important I think socially interesting discussions we might have had about those revelations got sidetracked. Suddenly everything we've seen through the gender issue and that's when it became naval gazing.

I thought that when somebody made the point that we should be thinking about the fire service in relation to the Grenville terrible tragedy and how little money they got in comparison with how much, I think that I don't mind having that conversation with… within that group, there's a new set of victims and they’re rich, wealthy women, and actually that distracted the whole conversation'"
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