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Roland Martin - Issue #15

It wouldn't be nothing without a woman or a girl ... notes from a Headmaster's assembly.

Roland Martin

March 15 · Issue #15 · View online
Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

It wouldn’t be nothing without a woman or a girl … notes from a Headmaster’s assembly.

Thinking about women ...
I’ve been thinking a lot about women over the last week. We’ve just seen International Women’s Day come and go - I was reminded of the event which my wife initiated at my last school, where the boys to girls ratio was 6:4. There, to celebrate the day, local successful women from a range of fields were invited to a networking lunch with a keynote speaker, an opportunity for girls to mix with and be inspired by women who had tapped on or smashed through the glass ceiling.
Last week at my new school, I was in the audience of a Rag and Roll charity music concert, where we were subjected to a Rugby Team ‘dance’ by the #rugbyboys. I wondered what message that ‘dance’ was sending out to the girls and women in the audience. I wondered if the boys might have been aware.
If, indeed, they were proud of their performances, then their hubris was met full on with their nemesis: the girls, as one of our female prefects pointed out, completely thrashed the boys in a sixth form boys v girls charity hockey match.
It would have been hard to escape the coverage of the recent London and Hollywood red carpets. A different type of inequality has raised its head there, with the under representation of non-white actors and entertainment industry professionals in the Oscar nominations. That’s a whole other assembly for sure.
For the purpose of this Monday morning, however, let’s get back to gender inequality.
Ask Better Questions—Red Carpet Supercut - YouTube
Red Carpet Rage
It does sadden me that when faced with the prospect of having a conversation with an intelligent woman, celebrity culture dictates that interviewers will resort to making asinine comments about what they are wearing and what they do to maintain their body shapes. There are plenty of better things that these reporters could be asking so many of these women, rather than ‘who are you wearing’ - what sort of a question is that anyway? -  perhaps, for example, in relation to the charitable work with which so many of them are involved.
I’m not suggesting for one minute that male actors don’t do good work for brave causes – and they probably don’t ask them about that either. Ben Affleck; Mel Gibson; Justin Timberlake; George Lucas all give generously. But we don’t ask them what they wear as a first port of call. Or at least we didn’t…
Male Celebrities Answers Questions that Female Celebrities Get Asked - YouTube
One of the interesting things about this clip is the reactions to the question. Are these men bemused? Or do they indeed find the questions patronising? In most of the reactions here the expressions from the men seem to suggest that these are dumb questions. At worst, the reactions might even suggest that they consider them to be dumb questions asked by a dumb (and female) reporter…
Jane Bond?
Five years ago, to mark IWD, Dame Judy Dench and Daniel Craig were enlisted to put together a hard-hitting information film that pulls few punches about inequality in society.
Daniel Craig, 007 cross dresses to support equality - YouTube
Know your limits!
Another well known public information film – at least to a 1990s audience – came in the form of a satirical sketch that appeared in The Harry Enfield Show. The sketch takes the shape of a 1930s public information broadcast. Satire is the operative word here by the way, using humour to ridicule something rather larger – in this case, the sexism that is prevalent in society now in 2016, then, in 1990, and much more obviously in the 1930s. By laughing at them, are we laughing at ourselves, just a little bit?
Women: Know Your Limits! Harry Enfield - BBC comedy - YouTube
At this point, I wonder how many boys are sitting uncomfortably, feeling awkward about the lot that we are fortunate to have in life? There may be some of you who are thinking ‘what’s this got to do with me?’ Well, I’m afraid that it has everything to do with you because it is boys exactly like you who turn into young men who get things all sorts of wrong … as this next clip shows…
Emma Stone Rips Andrew Garfield over Sexist Remark - YouTube
Of all people, our home-grown Andrew Garfield should know that with great power comes great responsibility; but he certainly left himself open on this one.
And my point is ..?
So, to the point: as the father of a son and a daughter, it bothers me that my son might be tempted to adopt the misogynistic outlook of the majority of the boys with whom he is at school. There is no sign of this yet, thank goodness, and I hope that continues. Every intelligent man should be a feminist. It bothers me that our daughter looks at the expectations that society has of women, and might think she has to conform to them. I hope that she takes some of the more apt role models in the following selection as her touchstones.
18 Famous Women Talk Modern Feminism: Chrissy Teigen, Emma Watson
The United Nations #HeForShe campaign has been calling on men to join women, take a stand and call for the change, to be the change, to engage men and boys as agents for the achievement of equality. 
When #HeForShe kicked off, people like Russell Crowe, Forest Whitaker, Yoko Ono, and One Direction were all tweeting about the movement, and with their help, more than 100,000 men made a commitment to creating gender equality through pledging support on the website over the course of a mere three days. 
Our Mission | HeForShe
Here’s a simple message from me this morning. Boys – women are more than coat-hangers, and in a fair society could probably beat most of us to every university place and high-powered job there is going. So if and when you are in a position of great power, remember the responsibility and use it wisely.
Girls – don’t feel that you have to conform to society’s expectations, and demand that males you meet take in an interest in who you really are rather than what you look like.
There has only been one woman Prime Minister in the UK – and it is more popular to berate her than to celebrate her – and as yet, there has not been a woman President of the United States. Does that feel right to any of you? In the US drama, Scandal, this powerful speech from Congresswoman Josephine Marcus, attempting to run for president with odds stacked against her, expresses a view worth noting:
Lisa Kudrow in epic speech on sexism in politics (From "Scandal" TV Show) - YouTube
#HeForShe proved that there are plenty of men who are not prepare to take this lying down. They want to make change happen too.
If you need convincing any further, have a look at these last two video clips, which I didn’t show to my 13-18 audience today, I’d say they’re definitely suitable for 16+, and I’ve shared both with my own teenage son, but parents might wish to use their own discretion.
#DearDaddy - YouTube
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