[…]

It only really scratches the surface of the issue but you might be interested to check out a five minute snippet of a Daily Politics debate between Anneka Rice, Phil Woolas and Anne Widdecombe about the changing role of women in the workplace. It took place in connection with Anneka Rice’s recent short film for the Celebrity Takes series where she talks about her experience of giving up her well-paid job to raise a family (which all seems fine until she starts making generalisations about men being driven by power and women by emotional fulfilment).

The debate begins with Anneka talking about the alien culture encountered by women when they first entered the male-dominated workplace and suggesting it would be designed in a different way if we started all over again today. So far so good but, unfortunately, this point is accompanied by Can women have it all? flashing up on the screen (sigh). Then we have Anne bemoaning women who “ask for special treatment” and referring to Caroline Flint as a “nincompoop” for saying women are held back in the cabinet. This is followed by Phil and Anneka seeming, in my view, to veer alarmingly close to aren’t-women-great-at-multi-tasking territory as they enthuse about the brilliance of “busy women”.

Thank goodness presenter Anita Anand pointed out that, aside from the unchangeable reality that women are the ones who have to actually bear the children, there’s surely an argument that if we’re striving for equality, men should do more in the family realm (“or be allowed to do more or have the space to do more”).

I’ll leave you with Anne’s comment about a “Blair Babe” who complained to her about how rude men in politics are to women:

…One of them stopped me in the corridor and she said “Anne, isn’t it horrible that the men are so rude to us?” And I said “yeah, and isn’t it horrible how they’re so rude to each other?” And she hadn’t thought of that. She’d taken it personally.

Or maybe, despite Anne’s implication that this “babe” was so wrapped up in her own prissy little world that she didn’t realise The Manly Ways of Politics, she was not left reeling by Anne’s revelation at all. Maybe she wasn’t referring to the usual jolly verbal sparring associated with politics because she was actually talking about her experience of that special kind of rudeness (a “special treatment” indeed!) often reserved for women: dismissiveness. But hey-ho. Woe betide any woman who dares to point it out when she’s being treated differently because the traditionalists will let us know that she’s actually complaining about being treated in the same way as the traditionally accepted men!