The brilliant minds of Conway Hall’s Ethical Society have launched a new series of talks, ‘London Thinks’. The first of these – hosted by Samira Ahmed- took place last night, and featured the fantastic Caroline Criado- Perez and Laura Bates.
Caroline- who has been featured on WISP- is co-founder of The Woman’s Room, an organisation aiming to improve the representation of women in the media. She also became the face of the ‘Jane-Austen-on-a-banknote’ campaign, which is where many of you will recognise her from.
Laura founded the Everyday Sexism Project on twitter, after deciding that the normalisation of everyday sexism had to end. Everyday Sexism receives an unprecedented amount of stories, highlighting the scope of the problem by providing a platform for women to speak out about sexual harassment.
The discussion began with 15 minute presentations from each Laura and Caroline, who set out the statistics for women in the media. Did you know, for example, that only 24% of news subjects (the people in the news) are female? (Source: GMMP) This statistic coincides with news this week that in England and Wales, only 25% of judges are women. Caroline asserted that the media as it is represents a “Male Default”, with women being seen as “Female Anomalies”. She emphasised the need for a greater representation of women in the media- both in terms of quantity and quality- in order to encourage a change in peoples’ perceptions of women.
Laura argued that gender equality must be thought of in the same way as global warming. By this she meant that it must become a global movement: a societal shift caused by every individual participating to bring about change. Laura’s latest project is promoting better sex education in schools, so that ideas surrounding sex and relationships are not “left to chance”. Since starting the Everyday Sexism project, Laura has been engaging with many other organisations to bring about change. For example, she has collaborated with the British Transport Police on Project Guardian, which aims to reduce sexual assault and unwanted sexual behaviour on London’s transport system.
The evening was thoroughly interesting, and it was refreshing to hear these women speak in person. As they discussed, we often receive women’s views in the news through a ‘feminist filter’. Their views, or the way they are viewed, is skewed to fit the media’s agenda and it is this that creates the confusion over feminism, and what it means to be a woman. What I See applauds women such as Bates and Criado-Perez, as they make visible and vocal the need for continued change.