Caroline Criado-Perez: Part one of an amazing conversation

Caroline Criado-Perez

Caroline on the telly-box

I interviewed Caroline for the article International Women’s Day 2015: 10 ways to make equality happen. But she said so many interesting things that I didn’t want to deprive you of them (every word that comes out of her mouth makes sense, a skill I wish I had). So, here’s the first part of that interview, more to follow soon!

I really only have one question. How can we speed up equality?

That’s an awful question! We need more people involved, that’s the only way to speed it up. I think what people want from feminism is for it to be simple, for there to be answers, specific changes. But we’re talking about society here. That’s not the way society works. We’ve done the legal framework. There might be a few things we might want to change, but on paper it looks like women are equal. The reason we’re not equal , is that people’s hearts and minds haven’t changed. So what we need now is cultural change and societal change. And that’s inevitably much messier, much less clear cut, and there will be trial and error, and things we need to discuss. That’s why it needs to be more people on board, it’s about every building block of society now, it’s about how we bring up our children, what we teach in school, what the media does, what politicians say, what films project, so we need people who are in every sector of society to be caring about it and be doing something about it. We can’t just have the feminists who just sit there and aren’t necessarily part of the rest of the world.

Is economic equality essential to true equality?

I don’t think there’s any part of equality that you can leave out, everything is co-dependent. Money is power.

But what about those people who say: women don’t care about money as much, they care about other things?

Do women innately care about different things or are they brought up to care about different things? Secondly, why is it that pretty much uniformly, the things that women value are the things that financially we value least? Interestingly, in Russia, where the medical industry is very feminised, they’re paid much less than for example journalists, who are paid much more, and it’s reversed. These things are just arbitrary, and they are based on the cultural value that what’s feminised is less financially worthwhile.

Women cannot be seen to be selfish, they’re supposed to be caring. Men aren’t socialised that way. I think people are mixing idea of needing to be very rich with the idea of equality.

Why do you think more women than men lost their jobs during the recession?

It comes from not wanting to take a chance on an unknown quantity when things are tough. What people know is the old way of doing things, with masculine values and men running things in their very male way. It doesn’t make any sense, logically, because the reason we keep having these crashes is because we don’t change the way we’re doing things.

Is the economy part of the problem?

The model of the economy that we still have at the moment is based on this idea of women providing all this free care work. It wouldn’t work if women all around the world suddenly stopped doing it, the whole thing would collapse. But it has to get done and because women are socialised to do it we carry on doing it.

For example, if you look at the working week, that’s completely impossible for someone who is a single parent. It’s modelled around the idea that you’ll have a nuclear family with one person going to work and one person staying at home and looking after the kids and doing all of the cooking and cleaning. That already doesn’t work in the society that we actually have.

The economy as it’s set up now doesn’t work for women and we won’t be able to get equality out of it. It’s structured around this idea of the autonomous economic man and he has this hidden invisible caring economy that supports him and enables him to go off and do everything he wants to do. While we continue to expect women to do that women will never be able to be equal. The only way for women to become equal is for them also to also become this economic man, but then who is going to do all of the care work? Men certainly aren’t doing it. But who wants to step into that role? That is completely undervalued, and is frankly boring.

The solution is to have men picking up more of the slack, but so that it’s shared, not that men become what women have historically been. So you want things like shared parental leave.

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8 Responses to Caroline Criado-Perez: Part one of an amazing conversation

  1. EyeisBloke says:

    Hi Elisa, good luck with the blog.
    Just wondering where you (and Caroline I guess) are getting stats to show more women than men losing jobs during the recession? Pretty sure most research was saying the opposite?
    Thanks EiB

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  2. EyeisBloke says:

    Thanks for the quick reply Elisa, my recent experience has been that bizarrely many feminist writers simply ignore me, especially if I attempt to discuss potential flaws in their narrative.

    Caroline’s recession narrative doesn’t make any sense logically. It also appears to be unreasonably biased against men’s collective contribution to society, especially if it is based on anything deeper than a surface level understanding of the Fawcett Societies’ interpretation of workforce trends.

    The assessment that more women lost their jobs during the recession because of masculine values (and men running things in their very male way) seems deeply flawed, as well as unnecessarily dismissive of the experiences of many working men and women in this country.

    Given that two thirds of the public sector workforce is female it would seem logical that in a redundancy situation proportionally more women would lose their jobs?

    That’s without examining workforce trends during the worst recession the UK has experienced since the war (2008 to 2009). Research by various bodies including the Equalities & Human Right’s Commission (research report 47) showed that male unemployment rates rose at a higher level and the proportion of men (as compared to women) made redundant over the recession was almost double. One of the key factors for this was that predominately male workplaces such as construction and manufacturing where hit the hardest.

    The data analysis included in the Fawcett Society press release that you linked to is indicative of a phenomenon that I blog about and describe as ‘the Glass Blind Spot’ http://wp.me/p5wnIA-eZ – This is essentially where someone consciously or unconsciously ignores information relevant to a discussion about equality because it would undermine or distract from their preferred narrative.

    For example, it is true to say that Women’s unemployment has risen whilst men’s is (comparatively) decreasing but, crucially, their analysis fails to acknowledge that the significant majority of long term unemployed are still men and female workforce participation is also at an all time high.

    Just sayin.

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  3. Pingback: Glass Eye: A Bird with a Tale About the Recession | eyeisbloke

  4. Hi EiB, thanks again for engaging in conversation about this! Sorry for the slow reply, I am not ignoring you, just very snowed under at the moment! I am looking at the report you mentioned, and when I look at the stats I’m not seeing what you’re seeing… you’re right about the redundancy rates, but that is only one way in which people lose their jobs (or fail to get a new job). It is also financially the most comfortable way to find yourself without a job because of the official nature of it, payments made, etc. They also explain the gender difference:

    “This gender difference is not surprising, given that women are less likely than men to have worked continuously, due to taking time out of the labour market to have children. They are also more likely to work on temporary contracts, often making them ineligible for redundancy payments. In spite of this, the redundancy rate for the three months to March 2009 showed an increase of 1.7 per thousand female employees, compared with 0.5 per thousand males.”

    The table on page 112 shows that the Average Annual Growth Rate between 2008-2013 was still lower for women than for men. And my maths might be rusty but I make the percentage drops in the top of that table pretty much exactly the same (which in itself contradicts the Fawcett I suppose). So I’m confused by the conclusion that more men became unemployed.. (what is this based on? I have a feeling they are just considering fulltime employment in this.) However, the report as a whole seems very aware of the problems faced by women, for example:

    “Women were more likely to be employed in less cyclically sensitive occupations and so were relatively protected from unemployment, but where women were employed in male-dominated sectors, they were often the first to be dismissed.”

    and seems pretty sensitive to the risky situation: “nearly one in four men think that in difficult economic times it „makes more sense for people on maternity leave to be made redundant first‟.

    I totally agree with you that you need to look at the whole picture- which is why I don’t think redundancy rates are worth focusing on too much on their own. Yes, as you say, female participation is increasing, and so it should! That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still expect and work towards full equality, which we simply do not yet have.

    I am curious to know, do you believe there should be equality, but we already have it, or do you believe that there shouldn’t be equality?

    Elisa

    Liked by 1 person

  5. EyeisBloke says:

    Hi Elisa,

    Thanks for the reply. First things first, I think it’s probably best that I answer your query about my views on equality.

    The answer to your question is a very clear and categorical no. I don’t believe that there should be equality, but we already have it and I most definitely don’t believe that there shouldn’t be equality. Quite the opposite in fact.

    By way of example, despite the fact that the Sex Discrimination Act was introduced in the 1970’s, every year many women get pushed out of their jobs illegally for the sole reason that they have become pregnant. This phenomenon of direct sex discrimination tends to increase during the sort of downturns we are discussing.

    You seem like an entirely decent human being and I have no reason to doubt the facts and quotations that you have quoted. Please accept that it is meant with genuine respect when I say that I’m not sure what your point is?

    The point I have attempted to convey to you is that I believe that there are very obvious and fundamental flaws in your and Caroline’s narrative explaining why more women than men lost their jobs during the recession.

    At the risk of being accused of cherry picking sections of the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s report that support my preferred position, this is best supported by one simple sentence in the executive summary:

    While men have experienced higher job losses to date in the current recession, women may be more likely to be affected later, with a second wave of job losses expected in the public sector.

    Please understand that I’m not interested in engaging in a boys v girls winner takes all playground shakedown. There are massive inequalities in the UK impacting on both women and men. One reason I started my blog but I agree with Alison Wolf (http://tinyurl.com/mz9jsgm) that an awful lot of privileged middle class self identifying feminists appear to be too preoccupied with the prospect nanny state quotas at the top end to focus on the big picture below (most especially when it comes to even acknowledging the apparently controversial concept that many men can and do experience inequalities too).

    I accept that part of the quota argument is that if there were more women at the top then this might change things for women at the bottom but I’m not convinced. After all those pregnant workers are as likely to be fired by a female boss as by a male one.

    So no, I don’t believe that there should be equality, but we already have it and I most definitely don’t believe that there shouldn’t be equality.

    Do you?

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  6. Pingback: Glass Eye: A Bird with a Tall Tale About the Recession | eyeisbloke

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