Community: Real Life

The fight for equality


Gemma

Gemma is studying magazine journalism at Southampton Solent University. She hates the idea of women ruining their hard earned reputations and is on a mission to change things.

If you enter the ladette culture, you're ruining your chances of being seen as an equal, worries Gemma.

I used to hate the saying, "it's a man's world". I could think of nothing more sexist. I thought in this day and age we were getting closer to having as much power, control and freedom as men, maybe even more. It was only when I took off my rose-tinted glasses that the 'Girl Power' psyche I had been so proud of seemed to crumble.  Rather than the strong, ball-busting woman in the office, gliding on her chair, giving Richard Branson a run for his money, I could only see the Vicky Pollards of this world, jumping up and down like a monkey on the swivel chair demanding when lunch is because she's "gagging for a pint and a shag with the boss". It was then I started to see that it will never be a 'woman's world' until we start showing them we can run it with decorum.

Not all of Britain's teenage girls are shameful, promiscuous and slovenly. But with so much of British 'ladette' culture wrapped around issues of binge drinking, sex and the constant power struggle between Alpha males, it's terrifying to think about what our society will be like in the future. It's as though all our hard work for equality is slowly disintegrating and leaving behind a trail of embarrassment. This shouldn't be happening to the western woman after all the hard work she's put in.

Prominent figures such as Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the Suffragettes, paved the way for women's equality. Yet ask any teenage girl who she was and they would say: "Oh yeah, she's that woman, that woman

"We have come such a long way from getting the dinner on the table at exactly 5 o'clock and being treated as second-class citizens."

err....something about getting knocked over by a horse." The woman who gave us the vote and stood triumphant after being imprisoned several times is barely remembered. I can't even begin to imagine her horror if she saw what we were doing today.

You might think women from all over the world would be frantically emailing each other, panicking over the sanctity of the female image and screaming: "Look, we've worked 80 bloody years to be able to wear trousers, own our own houses, be doctors and lawyers, be able to go into a bar by ourselves and make the lazy toe-rags cook their own dinners. Stop screwing it up!" But we don't. It's such a sad reality because we have everything at our feet. There are many more job sectors open to women than there was in my grandmother's and great-grandmother's time. More women are being given seats in parliament and jobs in management, in a previously male-centred world. We have come such a long way from getting the dinner on the table at exactly 5 o'clock and being treated as second-class citizens. We are rising in power and confidence all the time, with new opportunities opening, but we can't continue to climb the ladder of success if we persist in embarrassing ourselves.

With many of the next generation of hopefuls intoxicated with alcohol and taking on the behaviour of what we would typically expect from a 20 year-old football hooligan after his 10th pint of Stella, can we salvage any remaining speck of our reputation? The answer is 'No', not unless we look to destroy negative stereotypes by refusing to vomit on our shoes after a night out and fighting for equal job opportunities and pay packets. But until that day, I can't see one reason why we should be portrayed as victims in this society when we are giving them something to laugh about.

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Updated: 13/01/2009


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