Author Archives: emmahmoore

New blog … Finally …

So! We managed to choose the worst possible two weeks ever to go on a family holiday. (You’ll be pleased to know we enjoyed the break.)

During that time the government’s Bailey Review was published and across the media there were articles, comment, arguments the whole works, on issues we have talked about for all this time. We were gutted to miss an invitation to appear on Newsnight, but also very chuffed to be mentioned on Question Time. Most importantly though it was great to see debate and a chance for people from a range of perspectives getting involved.

Our thoughts on the review itself? Well, we are pleased that the government has recognised that there are issues here and that they are important. Important enough to warrant a review and to warrant time and effort addressing them. What the review and its findings can hope to really achieve is another matter. After all, this is another review in a long line of reviews which has attempted to make some headway in what is a hugely complex and difficult area to put right. Even defining the problem itself is a challenge to say the least.

We remain sceptical about the impact that this review can really have. We were very clear when we made out submission to Reg Bailey that the sexualisation agenda is in danger of becoming dominated by the obvious padded bra and pole dancing kits, and ignores at its peril the broader and more insidious objectification and commercialisation which is taking place across our high streets and online. We made the point that the beauty industry, in its relentless quest to find new profitable markets, is creating a culture which accepts that children should be wearing make-up, and that ‘naturally by 8 years old, girls need a little enhancement’. (Yes, this was Walmart in the US.)

Necessary?

So yes, let’s tackle the easy things – but they’re easy! Tesco does not sell that pole dancing kit anymore. WH Smith does not stock Playboy pencil cases. And Primark stopped on the padded bra front (didn’t it?). But that’s relatively easy. What we really need is to take a long hard look at the commonly accepted things around us. Disney Store is full of make up kits aimed at age 3 plus. As is Toys R Us. Where does this fit in? Isn’t this sexualisation?

Make-up aimed at ages 3+ in Disney Store

We are not so naive as to think that either of these stores is going to stop selling this stuff. And taking on the might of Walmart, Disney or Toys R Us is not a task two ordinary mums like us can entertain lightly. But I think what’s really hit home with this latest review is that we need to recognise a number of very simple and fundamental points:

1. Big business is very powerful and it runs the show. Money talks. None of these stores care about anything much other than their profit. By creating these new lucrative markets there are boardrooms full of people rubbing their hands together with glee. Let us not forget who profits and who pays.

2. As consumers – well, this is perhaps where we have a modicum of ‘power’. Because it’s our money which pays for all this rubbish. If we stop, if we say NO, if we at least start voicing concern and questioning what these multi-billion dollar companies are doing, then this is when they may start taking notice.

So, yes the government’s intervention at whatever level they can muster, is a good thing. Whether or not legislation is feasible, practical, possible or desirable is another question. It’s certainly not something that this government is proposing. But this needs to go hand-in-hand with ourselves as consumers (hate to use this adjective but it’s the only one that’s meaningful to big business) taking action, and talking with our feet, or our wallets.

Alongside all of this we must continue to press for long term cultural change which means we promote and strive for a vision of our society – societies – which isn’t driven by profit. But what is right and good. Box-ticking by the government is not helpful. While we applaud much of Mumsnet‘s efforts, they are not the only voice of parents and mothers. There are many other voices which need to be heard and which have relevant things to say.

Our campaign is about bringing parents, children and whoever else is interested together and using a collective voice to start doing just that. If that means we define ourselves as consumers and withdraw our cash and demand better from big business then fine. So be it. But we do want to also press for more lasting change which will ultimately mean that big business cares about more than just its bottom line.

And if you don’t believe us, here’s an extract from an email which we received last week from an 11 year old:

“The worse thing about this is that it stops you being your own person and you grow up believing that girls are just for decoration and looking at more than any actual real purpose. A thing that has also come up is boyfriend-girlfriend pairs – it’s like this, if you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend then you’re not popular and if you’re not popular you’re bullied . Girls should not made to feel like they have a price on what they look like or what they have , it’s there personality that counts …”

Georgia, aged 11

Finally a response from the BBC … but don’t get too excited …

Here’s what the BBC sent me last week in response to my complaint. It took over 11 weeks for them to come up with this.

Dear Ms Moore

Thank you for contacting us regarding ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ broadcast on 19 December 2010. Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We know our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we are sorry you have had to wait on this occasion.

I understand you felt there wasn’t enough coverage of female sporting achievement during the programme, and believe it came second after coverage of male sporting success.

There were two segments in the programme dedicated to the sporting achievements of both male and female athletes. The piece titled ‘Girl Power’ praised their determination, power and stated they are the pride and joy of Britain. It was a celebration of female athletes and did not mean cause any offence.

Overall we do feel female sporting achievement was adequately represented but we appreciate you take a different view. Please be assured that your complaint will be added to our audience log, a daily report of audience feedback that’s circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Needless to say I’ll be taking this further.

 

 

The latest from the BBC and their lack of response

A quick update here on what the BBC has said to me – or not as the case may be:

Dear Ms MOORE

Reference CAS-596258

Thanks for contact us regarding ‘BBC Sports Personality of the Year’, broadcast on BBC One on 19 December.

I understand that you are inquiring to the status of a previous complaint, reference CAS-555819 regarding the programme.

I can assure you that your complaint is still being investigated by one of my colleagues. I am sorry for the delay, and we hope to get back to you shortly regarding it.

Thanks for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Mark Roberts
BBC Complaints
http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Mind the GAP

Sexualisation is on the political agenda, and has always been on ours. At Pinkstinks we are currently working on our submission to the consultation of the government’s sexualisation taskforce (The Bailey Review), set up in response to the growing discontent amongst parents at the much publicised premature sexualisation of our children.

There have been a number of high profile cases which have been the catalyst for all of this: I’m thinking pole dancing kits in Tesco, playboy pencil cases in WH Smith and of course padded bras for seven year olds in Primark. Pinkstinks however has always taken a broader view as we believe that there are some very blurred lines between what are considered sexualised, and what are overtly ‘gendered’ or pinkified products.

Just today the latest website from the Gap was brought to our attention and deserves some thought.

The girls page features the ‘make a shape’ logo, including a young girl, I’m guessing about 7 or 8, standing on tippy toes – as if in heels although actually in flats – looking behind herself at her own behind. All skinny jeaned and skinny, it’s the ‘shape’ of ‘does my bum look big in this?’, ‘am I pretty enough?,’ ‘am I thin enough?’, ‘how do I look?’.

The 'shape' of things to come

And it’s evidence of the trend to use language (visual language as well as written), to describe young girls in the way that was once the preserve of women’s bodies, and women’s fashion. It creates the whisper of self doubt, the hint of concern, the merest smidging of ‘am I good enough?’, and of course added to all the other messages around her, it quickly becomes part of the cause of the suppression of her self-confidence and the shaping of her as a consumer.

So in some ways, whilst we’re all busy shouting loudly about padded bikinis for seven year olds, this stuff, this steady drip feeding of messages, loaded with double meanings for not only our girls but our boys too, quietly continues to further cement some truly dreadful assumptions about what is important for a girl to think and believe, and likewise, a boy too.

Moving - Not posing.

Incidentally, the ‘shapes’ that the equivalent boy is making on the site, is a sort of dancing, running, active moving kind of pose. It is clearly not, however, ‘posing’.

So this is the sort of messaging that we will be highlighting and challenging in our forthcoming submission.

You too can fill in your own submission at:

http://www.education.gov.uk/consultations/index.cfm?action=consultationDetails&consultationId=1749&external=no&menu=1

Please do share with us your own thoughts and ideas.

NO WOMEN WERE INVOLVED…

… In any of the (many) mistakes that officials made in any of the premier leaguer games yesterday.

Phew, we are relieved…. It seems that it’s nothing to do with your gender, if you make a mistake as a man…. But everything to do with your gender, if you don’t make any mistakes at all.

How confusing!

We’d like to thank Gary Linekar for the superb little dig he made re one of the mistakes (made by a man) in one of the games yesterday. It’s good to know that high profile men are finding the whole debacle an important enough issue to not let it go just yet.

A small word about the offside rule

How heartening to see the reaction from established sports personalities to the appalling remarks made by Gray and Keys regarding Sian Massey. Kenny Dalglish and Rio Ferdinand we are grateful to you both for voicing your support for her and your disgust at the two commentators’ attitudes.

 

But let’s not forget that the ubiquitous and rampant sexism within the field of sports is going to take more than this event to break down. I‘m still waiting for a response to a letter I wrote to the BBC regarding their patronising and pathetic attempt to feature women’s sport in the Sports Personality of the Year programme  before Christmas. A 40 second slot devoted to women’s sport under the title ‘girl power’, within a two hour programme. No mention of our successful Cricket, Rugby, Football or Hockey teams; language such as ‘golden girls’ being bandied about. The BBC has as much to answer for as Sky does. And it seems to be having some trouble in coming up with a response.

 

Sky should sack both Keys and Gray for their insults to women. If it has any business sense –  not to mention ethical and cultural sense – then it will . But we need to look much deeper at the attitudes we have to women and sport and address them head on. This means giving girls every opportunity to take part, to celebrate their role models (and know who they are), and to be allowed to compete and be rewarded in the same way that boys and men are. This means taking to task the boardroom culture which dominates sport and getting more women in top positions. And it means that we finally need to wake up to the fact that women are informed and engaged consumers of sport in all its forms.

 

BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Letter sent to the BBC today

I would like to make a few points about last night’s Sports
Personality of the Year. I think you would agree that this programme is important and iconic and is now a traditional part of the Christmas schedule. It is also a celebration of sport. It creates heroes and role models for our young people. And it showcases young sports people, as well as ordinary people who devote their lives to sport. In short it is a hugely influential programme with the power to inspire and excite.

So I’d like to know why the BBC thought it appropriate and adequate to run a section on the programme devoted to women’s sport which lasted 40 seconds? 40 seconds!? On women’s sport? Out of a two hour long programme? I could forgive the lazy use of the tired old phrase ‘girl power’ if it was at least giving something substantial on women’s achievements. But it did not.

This section of the programme perfectly illustrated the BBC’s attitude to women’s sport. It is second in line to men’s. It is unimportant. It can be shoved into a special little section of the programme which lasts just moments. It is not even worth talking about. (None of the women featured got to speak. Many of them weren’t even named. Although they were patronisingly all referred to as ‘golden girls’.)

Just to top things off, the section at the end which so poignantly
celebrates the lives of sportsmen who have died in the year – well sadly I can say sportsmen because there wasn’t a single woman included in this section. Have no sportswomen of note died this year? Really? I don’t believe you. Or is it just that their lives are not worthy of being celebrated in the same way as the men’s?

Let me see if I can guess what your response to my points will be:

1. Women’s sport just isn’t as exciting as men’s, hence it doesn’t
attract the interest that men’s sports get.

Really? Do you think all of the women around the country who regularly take part in all kinds of sports think this? Do Jessica Ennis or Amy Williams think this? In the US women’s soccer is huge and draws in massive crowds as well as sponsorship and investment. Without giving exposure to women’s sport (which is as competitive and as exciting as men’s) then it will continue to be sidelined, underfunded and thought of as second best.

2. Our women haven’t been all that successful this year – the show only focuses on success

Have our women’s national cricket, rugby, hockey and football teams not recently all had incredible success? Shouldn’t we be celebrating this? Our footballers and rugby players reached the finals of the world cups for goodness sake! Where were they last night? They were completely invisible.

(Mind you we were treated to a long sequence about how awful the men’s football team were this year! What an injustice and an insult to our national women’s team.)

3. It doesn’t matter because both men and women enjoy watching men’s sport

It does matter. Women’s participation in sport is on the decline.
Girls need to be encouraged to take part in sport. They need role
models. They need to see what success in sport looks like and they need to be inspired. Last night’s show only showcased two women in two hours. If women’s sport doesn’t get the exposure it deserves then it will continue to be an after thought. The BBC has a responsibility to its audience and it must lead the way in ensuring that women are given the air time they deserve.

Finally, I think it’s sad that only two women were shortlisted for the award. And the team of the year shortlist included no women at all (see above re the Rugby and Football teams).
Does your team of 30 expert sport editors know and understand anything about women’s sport? I’d be interested to know how many women were on that shortlisting panel?

I look forward to hearing from you with a response

Yours sincerely

Emma Moore

I await their response with baited breath