The Gender Battles Worth Fighting - Cheltenham Literary Festival

I was quite excited by the thought of an inspiring and in-depth discussion. But guess what..?

The discussion panel - Performance poet Megan Beech (When I Grow Up I Want To Be Mary Beard) and journalists Caroline Criado-Perez (Do It Like A Woman), Katie Glass and Polly Vernon (Hot Feminist) with Eleanor Mills of The Sunday Times - sadly reinforced the assumption that women are unable to discuss any issue other than body image and appearance.

Surely the question is not whether fashion is demeaning to women or not, or is relevant or not (because we already know the answer) but why are we entertaining it at all?

So much of the session was spent on the what-did-she-or-didn’t-she-wear question, which doesn’t just derail, but hijacks, the whole equality issue.

I am currently reading Criado-Perez’s book 'Do it Like a Woman...and Change the World'. A fascinating insight into the many ways that misogyny is ingrained in our societies; did this ‘debate’ illustrate yet another?

This ‘gender battle’ was like the American socialite Florence Foster Jenkins, who couldn’t sing the notes that she promised.

And so women are still waiting for succinct and incisive discussion that lights up the night sky, and puts fires in our bellies for the long walk home.

(c) Sarah Myers 2015

Cheltenham Literary Festival 3rd October, 2015

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