From time to time, someone asks me where my current interest in equality, inclusivity and diversity comes from. (See my previous LinkedIn article.)
Well – and I know half of Britain will want to kill me for saying this out loud – it probably has something to do with the fact that I found myself burdened by six or more stigmas after I moved to Britain.
Okay, okay, apparently Australia is doing just as badly, some of my connections keep pointing out (for which I am grateful because it is good to keep a healthy perspective), and my own home country still has plenty of work to do too.
But I live in Britain.
And today, I paid a brief visit to our local public library and happened to pick up The Times on one of the tables and it happened to be the issue of 5 September. On page 21, Alice Thomson wrote an article under the following headlines.
Gender obsessives are old-fashioned sexists
In our bizarre new world we have become fixated on a set of rigid Victorian ideals of gender roles for men and women
“According to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy I am a man. I know this because I adhere to social norms of masculinity: I am independent, confident, rational, sexual, competitive, take risks and care about my work. I am not a northern woman (who the association says are unusually strong and aggressive), nor am I on the autistic spectrum which, they add, would allow me to identify as female, despite being more logical than emotional. It is all very confusing, especially if you are a ditsy woman.”
Just in case you wondered, I am sure that that last sentence was written in irony, and yes, people in the north of England appear to resemble people elsewhere in the western world more than people in southern England in terms of behaviour and sociability, generally speaking.
Further on in the article, she said:
“Every time any rational woman, such as Maureen Lipman, suggests that women can actually try to be in control of their own destiny, they are derided.”
On page 2 of the Times2 section of the same issue, Carol Midgley hit the ceiling too:
“I am fuming – livid, I tell you – that new guidance for therapists has declared northern women to be “aggressive”. Idiots. If I wasn’t busy getting another skull and crossbones tattooed on my right biceps today, I’d go round and give them all a fat lip and a kick up their know-it-all arses.”
She goes on to agree that, indeed, northern women aren’t the fragile, soft-spoken dainty damsels that women in the south are still expected to behave like.
Some years ago, columnist Helen Kirwan-Taylor was criticized by some when she explained that women like Michelle Obama are terrifying to the British when Michelle Obama was visiting Britain because:
“the British like their women subdued and doe-eyed, modest and soft-spoken”
That, however, was also the impression I had gotten by then. Be your normal happy and confident self and many of the British (English) will quickly shush you into a corner for improper behaviour (or worse, physically attacked for not knowing your place), certainly if you are a woman.
Want more along these lines?
Take a look at “Singled out” by Virginia Nicholson, which focuses on the bizarre stigma that single women even today still have in British society.
“Ladies not admitted unless accompanied by a Gentleman.”
Then dive into Sue Lloyd-Roberts’ “The war on women – and the brave ones who fight back” and notice that the very powerful first story could just as well be about Britain and the way British society treats women. Female genital mutilation is not that far away from how women in Britain are still supposed to behave today, as you can see.
Sue Lloyd-Roberts, of course, was a man, according to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. So am I. (Wanna see my willie? I have to say that to prove that I am a “real” man, of course. Actually, I was supposed to say suck and dick, if I was serious.)
How on earth can the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy spout that kind of rubbish when that kind of rubbish is exactly why children and teenagers get bullied in schools and end up taking their lives?
And how on earth can you counsel a woman who has been raped when the therapist is supposed to believe that women who aren’t submissive are aggressive? Not to mention how a therapist could even begin to counsel any man who has been raped if that therapist were to follow the BACP’s guidance.