Monday, 17 January 2011

Ah, so that's why I voted Clegg!

... I knew there must have been a good reason. With all of the fiasco surrounding tuition fees, I had forgotten entirely why I had bothered to vote for the hapless twit, other than the fact that it was tactically worth it. (Or not - my wee country town in the deepest depths of Dorset is hideously Conservative, if you can believe it.) But amidst all the blunders and promises broken, I see a liberally charged golden orange glow on the horizon. And it comes in the shape of maternity leave.

At long bloody last, the government are making headway with the whole "equality" thing. Just as Labour were on their way out, they came up with the brilliant scheme of reshuffling the maternity/paternity inequalities: it was like the pangs of excitement of looking forward to the free toy in the box of cereal, only to find your brother had snuck to the kitchen at 7am and snatched it while you were in contented slumber. Or something equally frustrating.  But now, apologetic face a thing of the past, Nick Clegg reveals his plans to revamp this oh-so-close notion, starting as early as April. These plans will see women receiving one year of maternity leave but if after six months they wish to return to work, their partner can take over for the remaining time. What a brilliant idea, why has no-one thought of this before? Oh wait... Sorry Gordo. 

It's about time, really. Now that there are statistically more women going to university than men, the notion that women must ultimately part ways with their professional lives for a good few years without the hint of choice is, as Clegg says, an "Edwardian" idea. And the women who didn't go to university, who spent all those years making ground with their skills, their careers - all is not necessarily lost. And the women who suffer from Post-Natal Depression, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And the men who yearn to watch their baby's first steps, there is hope. And the men who are simply better carers than their other halves, a moral victory at last. By social constructs set in place which see maternity leave at a year and paternity leave at a measly two weeks, we have been forcing our women to stay at home and forcing our men to stay in the workplace. That's fantastic for those that want that. My mother stayed at home and my father continued to build and plumb and that worked out just fine for us. But in the 21st century where female prospects are continually on the rise, parters must be given more than one viable option. This isn't just about biology any more. This is social change, sexual politics, gender-role evolution. And ultimately, the unrelenting hunt for equality. When the government implement rules, regulations, laws and acts to ensure that there will be no discrimination based on gender in all realms of life,be it the workplace, marriage, politics or sex, it seems preposterous that this hasn't been tackled before. This is fundamental sexual stereotyping, literally at the root of life itself.

I am very excited. I am looking at a potential, hypothetical and of course entirely fantasy future, where I come home from work (I'd had a terribly busy day curing AIDS/ writing a hard-hitting article/ filming a documentary/ presenting Blue Peter) to find my hubbie (Aaron Johnson circa Kick Ass) bouncing our baby boy, Jacob, on his knee while our little girl, Iris, toddles about in a This is What a Feminist Looks Like onesie. I'm practically counting down the days.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Things said of me yesterday:

a 'knit-your-own-yoghurt-sandle' woman
'Feminist Misleads Students'
'Comrade and Glorious Leader Most Hallowed Chloe Green' (personal favourite)
 "her big words are going to end her with a libel case"
"What have you done now?"
Chloe Green: Misleading the public since 1990
Maybe that's why her hair is so big. It's full of FEMINISM.
Tovarich Green
The biggest feminist misleader the world has ever seen

"I'm getting a jumper with Chloe Green's face on the front and on the back:
'Liberal Feminist Misleading Tour 2011'
And all the things she does that mislead me this year added as we go along."

Crikey, what a day. And to think, all I tried to do was suggest we stop eating a few KitKats because Nestle are evil killers. Imagine if I'd said we should all stop eating anything unethical... I think they'd lynch me. 

The SotonTab article needn't even be discussed, it is beyond laughable, so I shall ignore it entirely. Even laughing at it is more than it deserves. 
The comments on the Wessex Scene however, are far more productive and thought-provoking. A lot of people seem to find issue in my "enforcing my personal ethical agenda on people". Hmm, that's an interesting one. It would seem that way, wouldn't it? The article was designed to initiate debate, research and interest and it has definitely succeeded there. I wanted everyone to know what was going on and get this issue thoroughly into people's minds. Again, I think in that sense it was a success. I do not want to enforce my own personal ethical agenda on other people: I want to make them aware of an issue that often slips under the radar and then, hopefully, they will stand beside me. Unfortunately not many have. 

I understand that people have an individual choice but as a Students' Union, we have a responsibility to practise ethically. We are in a position of privilege, where we could be standing firm on not condoning such radically sinister behaviour. If one wanted to buy a KitKat, they could simply buy it elsewhere. I am not forcing anybody to never eat Nestle again. If you're that desperate, simply pop to one of the vending machines on campus (unfortunately they are owned by the university itself, not the union, so Nestle would be freely available close by). With over 70 universities in the country boycotting the corporation, why are people so aghast that we unite with them? 

There are also complaints about the lack of purpose a boycott supposedly has. It's easy to see why people would say this: after 33 years, Nestle are still going strong. But surely we should be dignified and horrified enough by these proceedings, that buying into this company is a detestable idea that we would simply not want to indulge in? I am fully aware that SUSU not purchasing a few chocolate bars a month will not blot their finances in the slightest. They will not have even heard of Southampton University, let alone economically rely upon us. But that isn't the point is it? It should be a case of: 'Nestle are despicable. Let's not support them. KitKats don't taste so great anymore.' A SUSU boycott will not take the world by storm but it will influence 20,000 people. It will raise awareness. It will mean that people are more careful of what they buy into. Which can only be a good thing... right? It's all relative, it would be a small success but a success nonetheless. 

And for those people who say that I am selfish or lazy or idle because a boycott simply isn't enough: why the bloody hell aren't you getting behind me then? Rather than criticise me, if you think more should be done HELP ME. Calling me a 'slacktivist' when I have at least made a valiant effort to get this party started is so hypocritical. If I'm not doing "enough", you certainly aren't! These comments are the ones that annoy me most, more so than the anti-feminist ones (which, by the way, is entirely irrelevant. If someone wrote this article and they were Muslim, that certainly wouldn't be commented upon. It's just meaninglessly discriminatory but gets away with not being so because it's not classed as a religion/race). They are devoid of any kind of progression or assistance; they contradict themselves by claiming that I am in some way a woman who cares from the comfort of her living room, but these people are making themselves feel better for not boycotting by stating that a boycott isn't enough. ... From the comfort of their living room. I will be standing on my own in front of almost one hundred people at union council in a few weeks time, battling for this until I'm blue in the face. Maybe I'm not the one who should be trying harder? Cripes indeed.

So anyway, Nestle has officially ruined my degree. I have done no work in two whole days. Bugger.