#Wow2012 an intellectual feast for International Women’s Day

The Southbank Centre never disappoints with its speaking events, and the Women of the World Festival 2012 really was excellent. On Sunday I attended three incredibly interesting debates, with a host of esteemed speakers.

Panel 1: ‘Margaret Thatcher – Feminist Icon?’ was bound to stir the emotions of a liberal left crowd…

Natasha Walter – author of the New Feminism
Dame Ann Leslie – journalist and pundit
Laura Liswood, co-founder and Secretary General of Council of Women World leaders

Chaired by Women’s Hour’s Jane Garvey

Dame Ann outlined the general mood when Thatcher was leader of the opposition:
Girlies can’t hack it
She changed that
China – leader of the opposition
She is the real thing
Our job was to manage gentle decline
Interim for the grand old gents
Throw people overboard when they don’t fit
She didn’t like women
Sexual magnetism – get men to switch
Sex appeal – she did it with Gorbachev
Charisma – personality

Natasha:
Should feminists be allowed to have sex appeal?
She was everything we raged against
Brace the bass
Shop the city
She thought market principles were the values by which a society should be run
Changed the way people saw women and power
Weren’t allowed to be competent
You could break through the barrier – could go all the way
Lower-middle class, it was also a class thing
Despised by the elite and the leaders of the left
Barabara Castle – failed

Laura:
Style of women leaders
Men are judged almost totally on policy/politics
How everyone else dealt with her
When tasked with interviewing all 15 living women PM/Presidents, Thatcher said: “come back after you’ve met all the others”.
Enormously curious
Great trait for a leader
Make things knowable to people
If I can balance my cheque book
Life isn’t fair
Justify by principle and argument, then put it across
Women would always take men into consideration, that’s the difference
Only ‘o’ in a room full of ‘x’ – take on their traits
Transactional
Apology

Natasha:
Backlash against women in power?
Authoritative and competent women
Hard for women to own authority and competence
Women are afraid – apologise for being there, not allowing themselves to own the authority

Ann:
Playing the feminist dingbat is great

Natasha:
Terrible – personal qualities, mockery and judgment on appearance
Ann:
You don’t have to be gay to be a gay icon
Barbara Castle ‘it will make our jobs harder, but we can’t help but feel a thrill’
*** Death of Colvin
Life is more than fighting in the jungle
Opt out of that kind of rat race
Small, Independent entrepreneurial businesses drive the economy

Laura:
Historically out of power groups represent change
Perhaps we need more self-indulgent female millionaires!
93% would vote for a female president
17% representation in congress
No quotas
Norway – 50%
Benazir Bhutto – 0 in cabinet, 3 in parliament under sharia law

‘Blair Babes’
Women are not celebrated and respected
Women held to a different standard
Over-scrutinised
Tolerance for mistakes is less

Panel 2: ‘Money, Money, Money’ – the need for women to be financially independent

Merryn Somerset-Webb, Editor-in-Chief of Moneyweek, author of Love is not enough and one of the stars of Superscrimpers
The FT’s Miss Moneypenney – Heather McGregor
Jill Shaw Ruddock, founder of The Second Half Centre

Chaired by Jude Kelly, Southbank’s Artistic Director and founder of WOW

75% of production
1% wealth
Women’s economic power would change political power in a massive way
Language of economics
Didn’t understand
How to enter debate?

Jill:
Power that women have unrevealed within them – post-menopause
Fortune – independence
‘Career advice for ambitious women’

Merryn:
0.5% interest – never lower since 1694
worst financial ever seen in the west
5 years – will only go up
‘My home is my pension’
Global finance, interest, property
Geared to global macro economic environment
Quantitative Easing – creating money
Prices go up
Currency value goes down
More expensive to buy things from abroad – inflation
Fuel up £4000 p/y
Plan for it
No such thing as politics – economics is politics
Political chaos/social unrest is only going to get worse
Plan to deal w/impact

Jill:
Right to work and succeed and the home
60% of people studying MAs are women
women in 20s get paid more than men in 20s
20% FTSE 100
Money gives women freedom, key to feeling independent
save/manage
Money is more important the less you have
2/3 pensioners in poverty are women
Half of all divorces are women 45 +
Instant gratification of credit cards
50 years old today – will live to 96
Save money for later years
Accurate planning
Keep working as long as you can

Heather:
30% club
children – ‘cost centres’
11 years – head hunting
1. understand personal finances
interest rate/credit card?
Financial finish line
2. as important as reading
3. chartered accountant qualifications – sustainable financially, have to talk money

Merryn:
It was a woman, Blythe Mastery, at Morgan Stanley who created the toxic CDO
Variety of mortgage instruments
Securitization process
Good/bad debt together
Homeowners mean a less mobile economy
Incompetence – regulation
Boom/bust
End of world capitalism
Government sponsored capitalism
Nearly 50% of UK GDP managed by government
Not much more in formally communist states
Management/corrupt
Herman Minsky – last stage – big government – only socially acceptable way
Do not borrow on your credit card
Whatever you earn – make it last
India – 1.3 million women co-op credit union

Heather:
Top 10 Tips
‘Camp in my garden’
Do not open store cards
Good credit = clectoral roll, job 3 years
Pay off credit cards over 3 months
The best way to help the poor is to not become poor yourself
1 hour per week manging your finances
Responsibility to family and society
You can only change the world when you have money
Responsibility to create financial security for yourself
Housing market is not straight supply/demand supply of credit
Need employment
Do your passion stuff on the side
Security/happy
Purpose greater than yourself
Give your life meaning
38 degrees, massive electricity transfers
4 million business in the UK – 0.5% greater than 100 people – 2% greater than 50 people

Panel 3: ‘Mary Whitehouse – Prude or Prophet?’

Cosmo sex psychotherapist, writer and broadcaster Rachel Morris – gives you change-your-life sex advice
Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC
Dr Julia Long is an activist with the London Feminist Network and Object.
Chaired by Jude Kelly, Southbank’s Artistic Director and founder of WOW

50s and 60s – Lady Chatterley’s lover was banned
People are entitled to find out about stuff
General censorship
Whitehouse was disturbed and aghast at the deterioration of morality, women were degraded and debased.
Women – sexually explicit in the way they behave and are talked about
Jacqui Smith/Claire short
Deposed – porn/expenses
You can close down sites
Link with slavery, violence, drug dealing
To do nothing is wrong
Underground – what healthy, positive sex looks like

Julia:
Longford report
Moralistic – Cliff Richard and MaryWhitehouse
Heroes of the sexual revolution
Anti-morality
Both were partriarchal
Both control women
Or public ownership of women – the pill etc.
Late 70s – fems ‘we don’t want either of these’
Porn –subordinates women
Economic relationship
Commodity to be shared
Prostitutues – from the Ancient Greek
Availability/nature
Kind of education that meets the needs of a modern society
We have censorship at the moment
Silences women
Learned about sex from porn, not from women

Afraid of standing up and staying something
More afraid of being attacked than standing up for each other
Absence of mutuality
Laws – censorship – not normal. Not acceptable
But desire, fulfillment, intimacy..?
Because of pleasure – torture
Porn – sexual violence – not complex!
Truly fucked!
Andrea Dworkin
Civil law – reproduction/restrict of consumption
Redress
Saturated
Becoming normal
Industry, lots of money from torture
The Sun – symbolic of a culture
‘tarts’
‘depraved’
Choice/consent
Normalizing effect
How the image functions
“blokes don’t see women in porn as someone who has made a choice to do that”
Prolofication of sexual imagery
More slavery than has ever happened in humanity
Sex trafficking – porn – consequences

Prudes/closing down sexual options

Impact on young people’s minds
Need to be active
We like to play with guns, drugs – established level of harm

Baroness:
Ban on Visa
Juries now don’t accept violence against women
Erotica
Creative space
Who was are as human beings
Children don’t know they have choice
Don’t suppress sexuality – no discussion about saying no
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