Feminist Friday (and a quick beard round-up)

17 seems to be a bit of a magic number this week. 17 per cent of the delegates at Davos are women. 17 per cent of those feature on the BBC’s Today programme are women. Um.. okay well that’s it for the number 17. I just did a quick tally of my own illustrious workplace, to try and find a third stat, but sadly we’re running at roughly 25 per cent women – a bit too high to make my point.

Nevertheless, having a gender balance in all things is still up for discussion. It came up during the Leveson inquiry this week (not sure how this links to transparency and accountability in the media), leading Ed Vaizey to join The Guardian newspaper in urging the BBC to get more women on the Today programme. Reforming the Today programme, of course, will fix everything – representation in Parliament, equal pay, the devastating impact of welfare reform on women and children – all of it can be resolved if Sarah Montague could just be given a new female BFF for the radio…

In the meantime, it’s been a grim old battle between the Commons and the Lords on the subject of welfare. I’m increasingly grateful for the obstreperous aristos, argumentative bishops and cantankerous ex-members of Parliament who don’t have anything to lose by asking the obvious question: if welfare is meant to be for the poor, why are we trying to pass a Bill that will not benefit them? In particular it’s women, children and the disabled or sick who will feel the cuts most. Whatever happened to the principle of caring for the widow, orphan, stranger and poor in your land?

Perhaps women are to blame, spending their time creating a women-only social network, instead of working out what really matters. I don’t massively like it when women are outnumbered by men, but I’m not a fan of women-only things either. It’s all too emotional. Not to undermine the value of female friendship, which is a remarkable and wonderful thing. Emily Rapp writes about the impact her female friends have had on her life very movingly, and I know I’m grateful for the companionship and wisdom of people like FF who stayed with me last weekend. We do need one another. We just happen to need men too. So could we concentrate on equality and stop being distracted by the internet, just for a few minutes?

With that in mind, and in the interests of providing gender balance, I thought I should give you a quick update on my world of beardy men too.

A small victory was won in favour of the rights of all bearded men who love Mickey Mouse everywhere, as Disney finally allowed their male staff to wear a beard. As long as it’s trimmed to a length of 1/4 inch, which is arguably more stubble than beard. Nevertheless it’s the small wins that lead to great victories.

If Josh Strauss were ever to leave South African rugby, he’d not find employment at Disney, sporting the fine, thick long beard (some might say a little too long?) as he does. @mikezimlister (who discusses the contents of this blog so frequently, I feel it’s only right he finally gets a mention) kindly suggested I start following South African rugby players on Twitter for their beardedness, and sent me this fine picture as an example of what I’ve been missing all this time.

The quest for equality, and for the perfect beard continues…


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