Tuesday, 24 March 2009

This is BBC Radio 4, and here is a total 'WTF?' comment.

The other day, I caught an item on the radio that caused me to boggle with astonishment.

It was on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, and Delia Smith was being interviewed.

Passing lightly over the fact that she has donated 11 million pounds to Norwich City Football Club (raising two questions, 1. Is there that much money in cookery? 2. Is there really nothing better she could have done with it?), the bit that caused my jaw to drop was when Jane Garvey asked her if she called herself a feminist.

Now, I have no issue with people who do not call themselves feminists. I know a huge number of strong women who are going places, and a lot of men who believe absolutely in equality, who have their own word for their views. This is fair, because the word 'feminist' has a bad image these days, and is not a label everyone is happy with. I'm also aware not everyone is comfortable with labelling themselves, and that is also a position to be respected. What I have less respect for is people who miss the whole point, that it's not just calling yourself a feminist, or a womanist, or a believer in equality; it's about how you think and how you act and what makes you angry and what you ask questions about. I have less respect for people who can't see that there's a problem.

Hence my rising hackles when I heard this.

Jane Garvey: Would you call yourself a feminist?
Delia Smith: No
JG: Why not?
DS: Well because - I don't know whether I- I'm, sort of, outside it, but I've never really felt, kind of, any problem. I've never felt inferior, I've never felt - I suppose there are little irritating things like - if I want something men did, I ask my husband to ring up because they'll take more notice of the man's voice than the woman's voice. I also really like men a lot - I like the company of men.

(I typed this verbatim from the Listen Again recording. The link is here if you want to catch the whole item).

I'm amazed by the sheer lack of connection in her point of view. She says there's no problem, and immediately articulates an aspect of the problem. And yet she hasn't made the connections.

She's said it herself - men do not yet respect women as equals. And this in the UK, where we are still getting a good deal - we can vote and work and own property and decide if and when and whom to marry, and if and when and how to have a family. We're doing well, and that's fantastic. There's still lots to be done, but I'm happy we've got far enough that some people can relax and say, 'yes, this is good. We're doing well.'

But there are places in this increasingly small world, where women can't do any of the above.

I can't see, any way I look at it, that there isn't a problem. I try to respect everyone's political views (which is not to say I won't debate til I'm tired if I think they've missed something important) but I find it hard to deal with a total lack of engagement.

So, I'd suggest a new school of thought for the relaxed, the satisfied, in this lucky country. I'd call it 'international feminism', but it goes by many names, and it's practised by egalitarians and teachers and diplomats and aid workers and Amnesty International and the people who are still trying to gain the benefits that we have for more women, for more people, worldwide.

We could maybe start by phoning Norwich City and telling them we might just have a better use for that 11 million quid.


David Abstract said...

That's exactly what I thought!

Also the set-up line from Jane Garvey
"I went to a girls school where, frankly, you had loftier ambitions than being able to cook. I realise now that it was a mistake, that I made a mistake. My mother was a great cook and I should have learnt from her, but I turned my back on it a bit... I mean, I think that's feminism up to a point isn't?"

Wow - just great.

Also despite the fact that she's given them millions over the years the board of Norwich City don't take her seriously - "...because I am female."

I'm glad I'm a Keith Floyd person.

Do you mean "boggle"? Isn't that the spelling game?

Under the Goggles said...

Smith seems to feel the need to assert the fact that she enjoys the company of men - as if being a feminist means hating men!