Thursday, 3 July 2008

Out-of-Touch Old Gits: Women are Mush-Brains

To continue with Feminist Issue Week, I'm going to yell at some people.

In this article, which I strongly recommend, we learn that Theo Paphitis of Dragons' Den fame is an arsehole.

"All this feminist stuff," he said, "are we seriously saying that 50% of all jobs should go to women?" Paphitis went on to note that women "get themselves bloody pregnant and ... they always argue that they'll be working until the day before, have the baby, go down to the river, wash it off, give it to the nanny and be back at work the following day, but sure enough, their brains turn to mush, and then after the birth the maternal instincts kick in, they take three months off, get it out of their system and are back to normal". On the subject of paternity leave he suggested that he thinks "it's a bit soppy".

Yes, this "feminist stuff". It's shit, isn't it? No, of course 50% of jobs shouldn't go to women, it's not as though they're half the population or, y'know, people. Also, women somehow get themselves pregnant (how does that work?). Also notice that he seems to believe it's totally reasonable for a woman to have a baby, jump straight out of the hospital bed and goback to work, as though they haven't actually undergone an enormously painful, body-altering experience and pushed a bloody person out themselves. Note that taking three months off is considered insane and the result of "brains turning to mush".

On top of that, the contempt with which he mentions nannies suggests that even if we could jump out of the hospital bed and go straight back to work, it wouldn't do anything to push up his respect for us as a gender. My partner and I quite like Dragons' Den and I distinctly remember watching an episode in which a woman pitching them made a snarky remark about the nanny doing the work. Paphitis, who has five kids, immediately stopped her and said, "There's no nanny. There's just Mrs P." Two of the other dragons (five kids and six kids respectively) immediately fell over themselves to make clear that they had never, ever hired child-rearing help. For five fucking kids. And Paphitis thinks paternity leave is "soppy" so God knows he's not helping out. His poor wife. Can't get any help from anyone. Looking after the kids is the mother's job and only the mother's job, goddammit. He's big and important and has businesses to run. Including, amusingly, multiple lingerie companies. You'd think it wouldn't be in his best interests, especially taking into account his personal celebrity, to make disparaging remarks about his entire target market. And lingerie shops have to have, well, bra-fitters. The entire staff has to be female, really, and he's so unconcerned with them that he's quite willing to go out and call them mush-brains to the entire world. Guess where I won't be buying my lingerie anymore. I'd write and tell him, but he'd probably assume I was just a pregnant mush-head. Screw it, I'm going to do it anyway. La Senza, Contessa, you will be hearing from me.

Alan Sugar, apparently, thinks it's disgraceful that he's not allowed to hire based on whether or not a woman wants a family (and presumably, if she says no and then gets pregnant, he can fire her), and that to cut all the crap out, he just doesn't hire women. Just in case they get pregnant. I think that might be kind of illegal, but nobody will tell him off because he's on the telly. He doesn't think it should be illegal, because successful businesses can collapse under the strain of having to phone a temp agency and ask for someone who wants six months' work. How useless is he? We all know Alan Sugar is out of touch (email phone, anyone? All the convenience of email with none of that computer/internet stuff! You wouldn't think he made his money in bloody computers), but Jesus Christ. Has the man ever left 1972?

Edited to remove incorrect information.


Anonymous said...

Abortion is an evil, unciviled barbaric act. Those who support it will answer to a higher power someday.

Sian said...

*huge eyeroll at previous comment*

That article is amazing. I've kept the copy of the G2 it appeared in, and I'm thinking of writing to Kira Cochrane to thank her for writing it. People need to know about the unequal treatment of women in this so called "civilised" society.

My mum's organisation, Womankind, based in St Paul's, provides help and support for female victims of violence, which I should imagine would inlude rape. It's only a small organisation, but it's a start, I suppose.

I've been thinking of starting a feminist blog. I hope you don't think I'm copying you, but a lot of this stuff has been on my mind lately.

Jen said...

anonymous - oh, come on. Is that really the best you can do? "answer to a higher power someday"? Please! Where's the fire and brimstone? If you're going to threaten me with eternal damnation, put your back into it.

Sian - from what I see, we could use more feminist blogs. You could come on here if you like - blogger is set up to allow teams!