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Thursday, 24 September 2009

The World According to Women

I'm currently reading The World According to Women by Jane McLoughlin. It is trying to show how popular culture has ruined women. She appears to be excluding The Guardian - for which she does/has work(ed) - from her definition of popular culture. I would be more impressed with her theory if there was a contents list, an index and a bibliography in the book. I'm just over half way through and at the moment it seems to be her own views about Margaret Thatcher et al and how they emasculated men by depriving them of their traditional jobs. Um, really? So the miner's strike is all the fault of feminism - or at least women?

I'm not quite sure how encouraging women into work emasculates men. She seems to be saying popular culture excludes men and tells women how to denigerate them so that they feel worse about themselves. If she could really support her theory with facts and figures I would be interested. What she seems to be saying is that the 3 million unemployed in the 1980s were all men and women had been put into jobs at the expense of the men. She may well be correct most of the unemployed were men but for totally different reasons.

If women were unemployed they would not have been able to register and claim Job Seeker's Allowance because their husbands were working. Also a lot of women paid the Married Women's rate of National Insurance and therefore weren't eligible to claim Job Seeker's Allowance so again they wouldn't have been registered.

By creating jobs which are part time and low status the author is saying men became marginalised because the only jobs available suited women and made use of their inherent skills - caring, domestic work etc. These jobs were demeaning to men. Oh right - now I see. So it's women's fault because she goes out to work and because she's willing to do the jobs other people won't do.

If men have become emasculated and marginalised by society how come they can still be found at the top of most big organisations in far greater numbers than women? In the organisation I worked for once you got above a certain level 90% of the jobs were held by men. For those of you who are familiar with general civil service grades I was an Higher Executive Officer when I retired. In the job I did women were in the minority - only about 35% overall at that grade are women. The area I worked in was very macho and male dominated so the percentage was probably less.

This is an interesting book but it seems to be a manifesto in support of Guardian Women rather than anything else. I do agree though that the magazine Nova was excellent and in a class of its own. Even though it was resurrected a few years ago the new one wasn't as good as the original. My mother - not a lover of women's magazines - used to buy it and we both used to read it.

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