I Declare After All the Women in History, Jane Austen Isn’t the Best for a Banknote

Is Austen the ideal face to be replacing Darwin on the £10 note? What about the forgotten women of history? My thoughts on providing equal representation on our currency.

Jane Austen is due to replace Charles Darwin as the historical figure on the British £10 note. Whilst I respect Austen’s undeniable talent as an author, I feel the choice of her smacks of tokenism. There are countless other women who have been downtrodden in history who’s achievements have come in fields dominated by men.

I then had a thought – why is there only one variety of each note in circulation? Why couldn’t we have equal representation by having two versions – one with a notable man from history and another with a woman who had similar success in that field, a woman history forgot?

£5 – Elizabeth Fry and John Howard

The £5 is the only British note in circulation to currently depict a woman – Elizabeth Fry. Fry was a driving force behind the introduction of legislation which brought about the humane treatment of prisoners serving custodial sentences.

John Howard similarly fought for the humane treatment of prisoners. He fought for improvements to penal institutions to maintain prisoners’ physical and mental well-being.  He found to ensure prisoners had access to an adequate water supply along with a healthy diet.

Elizabeth Fry is to be replaced by Winston Churchill in 2016 (when Austen will be making her appearance on the £10 note), so really Austen’s appearance will only maintain the current status quo.

£10 – Charles Darwin and Rosalind Franklin

As far as I’m concerned, Darwin’s contribution to scientific advancement cannot be argued with. He introduced the concept of evolution and survival of the fittest to a society still relying on the religious explanation of where the creatures of Earth have come from.

Rosalind Franklin’s contribution to scientific advancement has been largely ignored. She is the unsung hero of the discovery of DNA. Franklin’s X-ray images of the double helix provided the data that Francis Crick and James Watson used to make their hypothesis on its structure. She died of ovarian cancer at 37, just four years before the Nobel prize was claimed by her contemporaries.

£20 – Adam Smith and Joan Robinson

Adam Smith is another unremarkable inclusion on British currency. Although a controversial idea (something I don’t agree with myself), the theory of free market economics has shaped this country to the economic state in which it currently resides. Take it as you will, but his effect on the British economy is undeniable, therefore it is only right that his image be on the currency he has shaped.

Joan Robinson was also an economist who contributed to British economic history. She contributed her name to an economic growth model, and wrote numerous works on economic theory.  Finally, four years before she died, she became the first female fellow at King’s College, Cambridge.

£50 – Matthew Boulton & James Watt and Caroline Haslett & Amy Johnson

Matthew Boulton and James Watt were pioneers in the engineering industry, Watt being the inventor of the of the steam engine with a separate condenser. The business the partnership created also nurtured a lot of engineering talent at the time.

Sadly, there haven’t really been any women who’ve had the same effect on the engineering industry in a partnership as Boulton and Watt. However Caroline Haslett stands out as a female face in an overwhelmingly male field. She was a pioneer of electricity in the home, as she helped women escape from the drudgery of housewifery (obviously it’s not for everyone). An electrical engineer and campaigner, she was the first Secretary of the Women’s Engineering Society as well as first Director of the Electrical Association for Women. Caroline Haslett Trivia – Her dying wish was that she be cremated by electricity.

As there are two faces on the current version of the £50 note, it seems only right that another woman who shone in a predominantly male field join Caroline Haslett. My choice is Amy Johnson. After becoming the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia in 1930, the pioneering aviator went on to set a slew of long-distance flying records. She died after going off-course in bad weather while transporting RAF aircraft around the country for the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War.

How would you deal with the current imbalance of historical figures depicted on British currency? Do you feel it is a problem?

Banknotes, Boycotts and Backlash

Oh, Sheldon. I finally understand what you were feeling when you uttered my favourite line in The Big Bang Theory. “There isn’t enough chamomile tea in the world to quell the rage in my heart.” I feel the same way, but with Mini Milks.

It seems like every time the feminist movement takes a small step forward (in this case, Jane Austen replacing Charles Darwin on the £10 note), it takes two steps back. I won’t go into my personal feelings about Austen replacing Darwin in this blog as I feel another post would be necessary. That’s not the problem, it’s the tirades of abuse the leader of this campaign has received on Twitter over the past few days along with the reaction of some people I’ve been made aware of.

Since the success of her petition, Caroline Criado-Perez has been the target of frankly horrifying abuse. No woman should ever be the target of rape threats and yet the users responsible for her abuse still have accounts on the site. Criado-Perez reported the abuse she was getting to the manager of journalism and media on Twitter. His response? To protect his account. Clearly to Mark S. Luckie, a problem ignored is a problem solved. For those interested, there has been a petition started to draw those in charge of Twitter to action here.

Upon learning of this earlier this morning, my feed lit up with journalists being horrified and sympathetic to Criado-Perez’s plight. These women are often the subject of abuse (from inside the feminist movement also) and are tired of having their opinions on twitter silenced.

Not being one to back out of a confrontation myself, I’ve been told I’m “too ugly to rape” among other things, for daring to comment that criticising a Wimbledon champion on her looks is not appropriate. This cannot be tolerated.

These journalists, namely Caitlin Moran, Helen Lewis and Suzanne Moore, have proposed an idea. That women who do not want to stand for this abuse and being silenced on social media silence their accounts for one day, to show what the social media site would be like if instead of standing up, women just left. It’s not the greatest idea ever, but what else is there to do if the site itself isn’t acting?

I’ve said it before, the most detrimental thing about feminism today is the constant in-fighting between the women (and men) involved. When this idea was proposed, it was met with the usual suspects who automatically decry anything Moran or her journalist allies say saying it’s a terrible idea. Fine, but do you have anything better to suggest?

Instead of providing something positive, it always appears to be much easier to just shit all over someone else’s idea. Would Moran’s cause have more merit if she was just out on the streets of Crouch End bawling at random strangers to fuck the patriarchy? At least these more high-profile feminists are trying to do something, instead of sitting at home criticising others’ attempts.

And so it rumbles on, my frustration reaching a fever pitch that not even Mini Milks can calm down. Sheldon, I really do feel your pain, though perhaps another one wouldn’t hurt.

Go Home, Barbara Hewson, You’re Drunk

I thought that everyone was pleased to have Operation Yewtree bringing justice to the victims of historical sex abuse. The victims’ mental scars will never fully heal, not just from the abuse itself, but from the people they may have told and didn’t believe them as they were just children. Yet today, a barrister has written an article for “Spiked” magazine, which has found its way from this small corner of online life into the mainstream.

The age of consent is there to protect minors from sexual abuse – from the predation of successful, much older men like those who’ve been charged in the wake of Operation Yewtree. It’s there to provide a solid line to show when teenagers would be able to make the decision to consent for themselves – understanding the potential outcomes from the situation. It has nothing to do with the age young women go through puberty. Just because you can have children, doesn’t mean you have the maturity to deal with sex and its potential consequences.

What I found most worrying about this article is that it’s penned by an extremely well-educated woman. A woman who went through puberty like the rest of us, knew the pressures from young men. Western society (where she and I are talking about) is a frankly terrifying place to go through puberty as a woman. In a small town where I grew up, it’s still commonplace for drunk guys to shout at teenagers to “show us yer tits” at 4 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. And if you ignore them, it only gets scarier. I wonder if Barbara Hewson was ever followed along a busy street with a man shouting at her, for other people to utterly ignore it.

Operation Yewtree is not about “persecuting” these well-known people in society. It’s about bringing people who raped and sexually assaulted children to justice, no matter how long it’s been since the incident, or how successful they have been. Having sex with a 9-year-old girl is not a “minor misdemeanour”, it’s rape. How can a girl that young possibly make an informed decision about sex, especially in England and Wales where sex and relationship education is not mandatory to be taught in school? Would a 9-year-old know about contraception, or even her right to say no?

In her article, Hewson suggests removing complainant anonymity – which in our Daily Mail fuelled media is nothing but outrageously dangerous. Events in America around Steubenville and the young girls who’s anonymity was not protected should make that abundantly clear. Victims of sexual assault and rape have enough problems just trying to come to terms with what has happened to them without society and the general media pointing the finger of blame squarely on them. It’s been said countless times – the victims of rape are not to blame, the perpetrators are.

Barbara Hewson’s language choice is also disturbing – claiming that “even” a deputy speaker in the House of Commons perpetuates the very ideas Operation Yewtree is dispelling. Just because a man is in the public eye, does not make him immune to committing sexual abuse and rape, and definitely should not make him above the law. The NSPCC is not a pressure group, it’s a charity there to help vulnerable children, such as those who have been abused.

Touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt, are not remotely comparable to the horrors of the Ealing Vicarage assaults and gang rape, or the Fordingbridge gang rape and murders, both dating from 1986. Anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality.

No-one is suggesting the three actions listed there are rape. They are, however the sexual abuse of a minor and should be prosecuted as such, no matter how long it’s been since they took place. To say otherwise maintains the prevalent rape culture in our society, making it appear that men in positions of power are untouchable in the eyes of the law. Late justice is still justice.

You’d think a barrister would understand that.

Louise Mensch’s Rose-Tinted Glasses on Thatcher’s “Feminism”

I’ll stop adding pictures of Tories to my posts when I stop writing about them, ok? Source: thetimes.co.uk

It would appear that certain breeds of Tory women stick together. Had Margaret Thatcher been a member of the Labour party (let’s face it, had she been around in today’s political climate she could have been), would Louise Mensch be so staunchly defending her as a feminist icon?

Sure, as I have said in my previous post, her election as the first female prime minister was impressive and a positive step towards equality for women politically in this country. However, something must have gone wrong along the way as the UK has a mere 22.5% of representatives in the House of Commons are female. Have we regressed in equality since Margaret Thatcher’s time as prime minister?

Today on twitter, Louise Mensch popped her head up from over the Atlantic to have an argument with Owen Jones (neither covered themselves in glory, petty points scoring over a dead woman is pretty poor show), then proceeded to inform her thousands of followers her screeching voice will be appearing on the 10PM ITV news to talk about Margaret Thatcher in terms of her feminism.

 

Her ignorance is staggering, it truly is. During her 11 years as Prime Minister, she had one woman in her cabinet. One. Every other member of her cabinet was male – hardly a feminist thing to do. Men and women should be on a level playing ground politically, and there doesn’t seem to be anything level about only having one woman in Thatcher’s cabinet.

Thatcher was openly critical of feminism also. She believed that women’s liberation had run its course, “The battle for women’s rights has largely been won. The days when they were demanded and discussed in strident tones should be gone forever. I hate those strident tones we hear from some Women’s Libbers”. She rejected the idea that she was in a position of great privilege, having the money to be able to pay for childcare when she went back out to work.

How any woman can possibly claim Margaret Thatcher believed in equality for her gender when she so openly opposed any opportunity to increase the gender balance in government and in the workplace. A man would be able to make the choice whether to have a family or to work – a woman in Thatcher’s mind was expected to put a stop to her career to reproduce.

Her life and politics can be proved to show equality in one way – she was just as heartless to the working class as any man could be. She actively used her power against working women, and that’s just against like…the rules of feminism (Mean Girls quotes are relevant at any time, it would appear).

Also, I want Louise Mensch to leave this country alone. I actively avoid the Sun, but don’t believe someone who lives in America should be writing about the intricacies of politics in a country she no longer wanted to live in. She needs to but her nose out, and spend more time with her family (the reason she left her job as an MP in the UK). Surely her parenting can’t be done on twitter, so I want her to go away. Perhaps a little break might give her brain cells a rest – she might see she’s not the stalwart of feminism she so clearly sees herself as.

A little self-awareness is all I ask for, surely that’s not too much.

Too Young to Comment on Thatcher?

Since when was a politician’s only effects felt when they were in office? When Winston Churchill was no longer prime minister, did the UK go back to war with Germany? When Tony Blair was replaced by Gordon Brown did we automatically pull out of Iraq? The policies and ideologies which Margaret Thatcher implemented during her period as prime minister are largely still with us today, so why can’t I comment on the life of a woman who has affected the world I was born into and have grown up in – just because I wasn’t around when she was in office?

It really is tiring to justify yourself and your opinion to people older than you – so often you are given a patronising pat on the head like “Well done for trying, but you’re too young to understand.” I understand just fine, thank you. Child poverty during Thatcher’s government was the worst in the developed world at the time (the current Conservative government are doing their damnedest to surpass those levels, though – what a goal!). This surely was helped by her government putting countless working class people out of work by closing shipyards and coal mines, to name just two examples.

The fact she was the UK’s first and only female prime minister meant almost nothing for women of her gender – she actively despised feminism and what it stood for, believing that the women’s liberation movement had gone far enough (in the 80s, really?). She actually proclaimed feminism to be “poison”, surrounded herself with powerful men – and certain publications have been trying to portray her as a feminist icon. Give me a break.

Thatcher became an archetypal Conservative by her striving towards privatisation (aside from the NHS and National Rail, which have since been at least partially privatised by different Tory governments). She is the woman who is behind the massive electricity and gas bills you have received in the last few months, hiding it under the banner that prices will go down due to competition.

Her political ideology has been picked up by Southern republican politicians over in the USA, and surely that can’t be seen by a positive thing. Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all claim to have been influenced by her politics, further clarifying that all three have been cut from the same cloth – making all three of them unelectable, at least to me.

Thatcherism is still alive and well today, it serves as a driving factor to widen the gap between the richest and poorest in this country. Frankly, it’s disgusting. Surely the only right thing for the current government to do is to provide Thatcher with a funeral/cremation, funded by the private sector. It’s what she would have wanted.

I am bycotting all news sites and TV news until the woman is buried on 17th April. Good riddance to her, it’s just a shame her politics didn’t die with her.

The Power of Female Anger

And no, this isn’t going to be some Suzanne Moore-esque breakdown where I insult minorities and react terribly to it.

I have spent a few days wondering whether it’s a good idea to post this or not, but this is actually going to give me gastric ulcers if I don’t get this out one way or another.

As I have already explained in another post, I don’t react kindly to being openly insulted. What I didn’t post about is that I react to being patronised even worse. A condescending pat on the head would be enough to send me into a fit of splenetic rage, and I feel in this case it is actually warranted.

At what age does ones opinion begin to be taken seriously? I’m genuinely curious to garner opinion about this as I found out that at 21, I’m still young enough that someone will condescend to me and “go easy” when I engage them in a debate.

If it wasn’t 12:48am I would add more about this engagement with someone proclaiming to be erudite, yet completely misunderstanding and disregarding feminism, but I am tired and would like to finish this chapter of The Psychopath Test before I go to sleep.

 

Abortion Rights: Where Scotland’s MSP’s Stand

Would a woman’s right to choose be protected in an independent Scotland should the referendum result in us leaving the union?

After the comments from Conservative MP’s in England, namely Jeremy Hunt, Theresa May and Nadine Dorries (who’s since went off to Australia to eat kangaroo bollocks to “further politics in the UK”), I took matters into my own hands and contacted (mostly) female MSP’s to get an idea of where Scotland’s politicians stand on the current time limit.

This issue could really sell me on an independent Scotland, the knowledge that politicians in my home country are not looking to limit the choice I may at some point be forced to take should I fall into this unfortunate (for me) position.

My initial email went as follows:

Dear Ms _____,

As I am sure you will have read about, over the past weeks there have been a number of politicians both here in Scotland and from the Westminster Parliament who have come out in support of reducing the length of time a woman has to decide upon abortion. Obviously this is not an easy choice, although some politicians and religious figures in the media believe this to be so. Any woman who knows what abortion is like (through personal experience or otherwise) would easily be able to inform these people otherwise.

My reason for writing to yourself and the other female MP’s is that I would like some reassurance that in an open vote you would not vote to reduce your gender’s right to choose their own path. The current span of 24 weeks I find to be reasonable, given that women would have enough time to discover their pregnancy, and would be able to make an informed decision (given you can have the tests for possible genetic birth defects, etc) on whether to continue with the pregnancy.
Limiting this choice is not fair to women who do not find out about their pregancy early enough, and are thus forced into keeping a child they do not want and will ultimately resent. The woman who is forced to continue her pregnancy’s other option is to burden the already overladen care system.

I don’t understand why any woman would want to interfere with another woman’s choice. It is after all, a very personal choice. It is not for (mostly) male law makers to decide whether a woman can have that choice.

If I personally were to fall pregnant at this stage in my life, I could not keep the child. I am now in my early twenties, continuing my education and trying to earn a little money. I have never wanted children and do not see any reason for my mind to change at any point in the future. I would opt for an abortion, as it would be the only way to not literally ruin my life. I do not have the means to look after a child if it were forced onto me. I could not give up my child into the care system as I have friends who grew up, being passed around foster homes and never being adopted.

If the vote does come to pass, I ask you and your other female MSP’s that you remember the women of your constituency and beyond are not all in the same situation. Regardless of your own views, you should not use those to discriminate other women.

If this makes it to your desk, thank you for reading this, Hannah _____

I asked women as I do not feel as if a man can have the final say in a woman’s choice to continue or terminate a pregnancy.

I have organised the MSP’s responses by party, so you can get a fair picture of where specific parties stand on this issue.

Scottish National
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