Toby Young, Daily Mail 1st April 2016.
You could say that drawing attention to this sort of thing is giving the trolls what they want.
That Toby Young will be reclining on his chaise longue this morning, clad in smoking jacket and dragging on the big old Cuban parked between his educated lips while he cackles at the outrage his Daily Mail article provoked.
But April Fool’s Day ‘gag’ or not, this kind of rhetoric disturbs me deeply.
I had a conversation with a friend the other day that began with him expressing disappointment at the BBC’s placing female sports alongside male sports in news broadcasts. He felt it was positive discrimination and unnecessarily politically correct placing both on the same footing, given their respective public profiles. There have been similar rows recently about equal pay in sport, not to mention film and virtually every other form of employment.
My response to his opinion is applicable to both these arguments, so, for the record, I’ll note it down here.
I’m very fortunate to find myself in a position to have a voice and, having been a young girl with aspirations myself, I intend to exploit it to the maximum. I’ve worked fucking hard to climb aboard my tiny little platform and I will continue to shout loudly from it every time I see something that minimises female achievement.
Not for me, but for today’s kids; many of whom hear only negatives about their self-worth, looks, abilities, sexuality and abilities to contribute to the world. I’m able to see through these people because one of the benefits of getting older is having more life experience (I could get started about how Western culture purposefully excludes ‘older’ women from the narrative because they would empower young women, but ain’t nobody got time for that) and I know in my heart of hearts I would have felt more confident in striking out in my chosen career if I’d seen other women calling stuff out.
I had Martina Navratilova as an inspiration. I can’t even list her achievements in tennis, they’re so bloody vast, but my overriding memory is that there was something wrong with her and her achievements were somehow inferior for it, because the media were so repulsed by her sexuality. Unsurprisingly, this affected me.
And that’s why you will see me yelling out, every single time I see it. Even if it’s April Fool’s Day.
If it annoys you, fine. You can unfollow me, or not click on my posts and read my work. Just remember, I’m not doing it for you. Or me. I’m doing it for young women and men who want to do something but are already buckling under the weight of being told they’re inferior because they’re gay or black, Muslim or female or whatever other petty distinction becomes fashionable when I’m too old to notice.
If just one kid reads my work and thinks, “OK, someone out there has my back. I’ll try writing or broadcasting, studying medicine or being a pilot,” it means they’re better off than I was.
I’ll take any amount of bitching for that. Come at me.