Do you Actually Know any Women?

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Dina Rickman (left) contributes regular articles on gender equality feminism for the Independent, or to be entirely accurate the I-100, which appears to be their in-house creche facility for people who don’t really like reading newspapers. She also regulary tweets on the subject, occasionally sharing observations such as this:

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She is an alumni of the prestigious Henrietta Barnett School and her boyfriend won’t let her get a cat.  Her articles are not always 100% accurate which is possibly one reason why Mike Buchanan recently made her his Whiny Woman of the Month.

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I’ve taken a proper look at Mike and his childish antics elsewhere but this piece is about the ugly side of gender journalism and, in my humble subjective opinion, Rickman’s retort is a good example of this.

Dina thinks that self awareness is an underrated quality which is certainly something we can agree on.  I realise I’m offering her a disrespectful dish of ‘patronising old fart’ to throw back at me by saying this but… I lacked self awareness is spades when I was her age so I’m prepared to cut her a bit of slack.

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That said, I’m not the one in the privileged position of influencing public opinion by writing for one of the big three broadsheets, so I do think she should at least take a moment to reflect on the response she published.

‘Women should be wary of writing about and engaging with Buchanan… …I certainly am. I’m not alone: other female writers I have spoken to who have dealt with him have described him as “deliberately intimidating”, “perturbing” and “difficult”.’ Dina Rickman

I’m no fan of Buchanan but if journalists suddenly start blanking anyone they perceive to be intimidating and difficult then we might as well give up on any aspiration of living in a democratic country.  Depending on who get’s to draw up the inevitable Government sanctioned blacklist (probably a man, the bastard) Rickman might just find herself cast out in the cold with undesirables like Mr Perturbing.

At least she might get to share a last cigarette with revered peers like Jeremy Paxman as she reflects on why anyone could possibly perceive her own performance on London Live to be a tad “deliberately intimidating”, “perturbing” and “difficult”.

‘My altercation, after debating sexism with him and the writer Daisy Buchanan (no relation) on London Live, led to my Twitter mentions being clogged up with anti-feminists…Why? Because when Buchanan asked me to outline areas women are disadvantaged in, I cited the gender pay gap.

One writer I spoke to about Buchanan suggested the best thing to do with people like him is laugh – so in that spirit, here’s what happened when we appeared on London Live.’

She then links to the clip included at the bottom of this article which admittedly has a few moments of comedy gold, although possibly not in the way she intends.

Buchanan never really gets an opportunity to show himself up as the discussion essentially becomes boys v girls, with the (female) anchor showing her data privilege bias by pushing undermining comments like ‘we really need to talk about where you get these figures from’ in his direction only .  Rickman meanwhile pulls weird faces when he talks, explains that we live in a society ‘designed for men to go out to work and women to stay at home’ and with a straight face asks him if he ‘actually knows any women’.

In response to his introductory question (name one way in which the state currently disadvatages women and girls?) she offers the ‘Gender Pay Gap’ and, especially in her self publicising picture story follow-up, presents this argument in a matter of fact manner ordinarily reserved for the supremely confident or childish retort ‘THEY JUST DO’.

Daisy Buchanan from the Guardian helpfully kicks off her contribution by establishing that it’s broadly ok to call someone ‘love’ but even the most credible of the three wise women round the table sidesteps her namesake’s gauntlet (state sexism), apart from that is, briefly stumbling over a dubious narrative where the current education system is seen to be primarily failing girls.

In turn I’m going to sidestep Rickman’s Equal Pay culdesac and get to her most ridiculous statement.  Before I do, the one thing I will say is that given that ‘The State’ introduced equal pay legislation over 40 years ago and use taxes disproportionately collected from men to pay the wages of a public sector workforce that is predominately (and increasingly) female, a more seasoned professional feminist would have gone with the answer ‘austerity measures’.

Which brings me to her similar ‘first past the post logic’ for domestic abuse services.  Just in case any I-100 readers readers are struggling to get the picture, her next observation truly reveals the bias inherent in her worldview.  When the discussion turns to the dramatically stark inequalities between services available to male and female victims of domestic abuse, her position is this:

I would never want to minimise the pain men are in BUT men are not the people who tend to die…so what i would say is that there aren’t enough places for women…[so]…let the places go to the people that are most likely to be killed and they are women.  It’s not sexism it’s just a simple statistical truth.

Just pause for a minute and apply that logic to other areas of state funding.  Take a minute, close your eyes and consider a world where women are excluded from mental health services because they are statistically and significantly less likely to commit suicide and men diagnosed with breast cancer are cast out of hospitals and left to die.

Rounding off a breathtaking performance Rickmanperson then confides her personal experience of sexual harassment on public transport immediately after having waved the offence card at Buchanan for being ‘disrespectful’.  Standing his ground, the foolish man had just committed the cardinal sin of ‘minimising the experience of loads of women’ by describing the comparatively low level examples of state sexism offered from the panel as, well… ‘low level stuff’.

Sadly, I think that by this stage Rickman had undermined the impact of her own personal experience of #everdaysexisim and indeed any sympathy she may have hoped to garner from sharing it when she did.  Only moments earlier she had been justifying sniggering like (well..if the shoe fits ) a little girl by patiently explaining to Buchanan that ‘the reason I’m laughing is because everything you’re saying is laughable’.

Which is a tad ironic under the circumstances…

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